For the past nine days, ever since my dad died, I’ve been thinking about him and about life and death in general pretty much nonstop. When Lex was in kindergarten and went through a time where he couldn’t sleep at night because the idea of dying was upsetting him too much, I told him that before he was born his whole world was inside of me. He could hear my voice, in an underwater, warped way, and he maybe knew that he wasn’t alone, that there was something else keeping him company. And, I told him, it would have been impossible for him to imagine the world that he was about to be born into. Light, colors, air, trees, smells, cars, houses, seashells, rockets, food, even his mother – everything he could think of – all of it was so close to him all the time but he had no way to know. I told him that we have no idea what happens after we die, but that if we have the sense that there’s more out there, then I think it’s because there is. That there’s something holding us that we can’t see or imagine, but we can still feel is there. It seemed to help him. I know it helped me.
When my step-mom and I got to the hospital after my dad died, we went into his room and sat with him for awhile. I was hoping to feel him there still, but I didn’t. I looked up toward the ceiling above his hospital bed anyway, just in case he was there watching like people who’ve had near death experiences describe.
His voice is still so clear in my head. The way he said Hello when he picked up the telephone, how he said, awwww coool, when he really liked something, him singing Ghost Riders In the Sky to me and my brother when we were little. How he said my name.
Sometimes I think about those fish that live their whole lives at the deepest parts of the ocean. They’re on the same planet we are, but don’t have a concept of life outside the water, or even life with light. It’s so weird that things like that give me hope that my dad is still around somewhere.
Last night I was driving over to Scuba’s house, so we could go out for dinner, just us, since the kids were away for the night, I stopped at a light and saw that there was a spiderweb between the side-view mirror on the driver’s side and the door of the car. And, working quickly to fix all the broken parts of it, was a pretty good sized little orangey brown spider. Oh, bummer, dude, I said to him when the light turned green. He hung in there for the whole drive, even though at one point he was trailing straight back from the mirror on eighteen inches of silk at 40 mph. About three quarters of the way there, he finally crawled into the space between the mirror and its cover, and if spiders feel fear, I’m sure he was just terrified. And here it was again: The spider had no idea what the hell was happening to him, but I knew the whole story because I was watching it happen. It’s helping me feel a tiny bit better, looking at things this way. It doesn’t fix that I won’t ever get to see my dad again, and that if I live to see eighty years old I’ll end up living half my life without him, but it helps me believe that he’s still around, tucked someplace, maybe even on this planet, where he’s there but no one can see him.
Ever since the end of the summer before last, the air conditioning in my van has only worked sporadically. Just when I’m ready to pay whatever it costs to get it fixed, it starts working again, but only for one car ride, and then the next time I start the car, I get nothing. Every time I’ve driven my car since my dad died, the AC has worked, beautifully. And I know it may sound silly and far-fetched, but I think he fixed it for me. That would be just like him.
[Edited 8.24.11 to add: My comment moderation/notification was messed up ALL summer (my fault), but I didn’t realize it until now. Huge apologies to the 20 or so people who left such kind and helpful comments. I’m so sorry I am only just now seeing and publishing them. Thanks so much for your help. Two months later it’s honestly not any easier, but it’s different, less frantic I guess, since I’m not feeling as much of that panic that comes with total disbelief. I don’t know that I’m making sense, here. I don’t know what to say, so I’ll just say thank you again for taking the time to reach out. My dad read my blog and would have been (or maybe he is) so touched.]