Wordless

26 Feb

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I have to write a letter tonight, to a man I haven’t spoken to in nearly 14 years. 

…It’s about another man, whom I haven’t seen in almost as long. 

I feel side-swiped, and ill prepared, though there were signs that were telling me to get ready.  Signs that this was coming.  But I was so consumed with trying to dig out of the last family loss, that I didn’t give this next one the attention I should have, nor the people on the other side of family tree, sharing limbs with me.

Tonight, they are gathered, there.  I know what they feel. I know the loss of appetite and swell of pain ripping upward from the throat which comes from trying to hold back tears.  I know they are huddled together, speaking comforts to one another. Uncles are picking up Aunts from the airport. Everyone seems to be whispering, with grim-faced stares.  Children are fussing and crying because they don’t understand what it all means, only it is the most terrifying thing in the world to see your father cry.

…I imagine.

They are at a loss, with a loss, which seems somehow removed from me. I don’t like to admit it, but I want to comfort them, without being hypocritical. Having a loss that rips you in two deserves its proper mourning, and sympathy. They knew and grew up with this man their entire lives, and the simple fact is: I did not.

This afternoon, I found out that my Grandfather had passed away.

The man has given me my name, by once marrying my Grandmother, and adopting my Father and his sister, before carrying on to grow the family further. From them grew cousins I adore, and their sweet babies I wish I could snuggle. He may not have been of my blood directly, but it was a proud name, and he was a proud man, and his life, though almost exclusively separate from mine, helped to make me who I am today.

Our ancestors are our roots, seeding us, growing us, anchoring us into our places on this earth in a true marriage of “for better or worse, richer or poorer, in sickness and in health.” For this, I am truly thankful to him, but I know it is not the same as the pain the others are feeling tonight.

…And I feel really badly about that.

Frankly, I feel like a total asshole.

For over an hour today, I haunted the sympathy card aisle, trying to choose something to send to my family. Something that recognized the epic loss, without making it sound as if it had nothing to do with me…yet nothing which might hurtfully presume more of a relationship which I hadn’t earned, and would have no right to presume upon them now in their grief.

…Just so you know: They don’t make those kind of cards.

I’m literally faced now with two “blanks.” Something calming on the outside of water and blooming life: on the inside: nothing.

One for my Grandmother and family.

One, for my Father.

I have a pen sitting right there, on the table, but I’ve no idea whatsoever where to begin.

…Even just starting the first one is odd.

“Dad,” it says.

Simple enough I guess, only not so much when you haven’t spoken the word in one and a half decades. Two years before that. Four before that.

I don’t know my Father, any more than I knew his.

So now I must write of one to the other, and have suddenly a minefield stretching out before me of all the things NOT to say, yet no idea how to get to the things I should.

What, for instance, can I write, which won’t dig up past ghosts, and hurl them at him blind-sidedly…triggering whatever regrets and/or guilts he might have held onto all these years, as people from broken relationships do? Now is not the time to appear to be throwing loaded emotional bombs at people in their grief…even less, at your own Father. Because you actually harbor him no ill will, that was all over…long ago.

…You just don’t know him, is the end result.

…So what in the hell do you say in a card on the loss of your “Dad’s” Dad, when you can’t seem to even think of the title yourself without quotations marking it’s specific significance?

I don’t have the proper practice it takes to say it without sounding foreign.

Love of family can be an odd happenstance, a Frankenstein-and-the-Monster kind of thing. Sometimes it is a comfort from stability and encouragement. Sometimes it is a flamethrower away from all-out war. Sometimes it resides in the symbolism. Mostly, I’d say, in the “shared experience”…good, bad, or otherwise. Because of this, you can hold that fierce connection and devotion, no matter how far apart you roam from one another. You belong to the name. You belong to the history. You belong to the gene pool, and its every harbored secret and horror and wonder and joy and regret.

…Because of this, I can say, “I love my family,” and mean it…whether I particularly know them well…whether I’ve met their spouses, or children…whether I attend the potlucks and football games, show up at Easter…or not…because we are linked by these viciously intense, and invisible tethers. They are my people, and I am there’s.

…I want to tell them: “I’m sorry for our loss” without sounding condescending or belittling the depth of their grief in any way. After all: they’ve been there through thick and through thin…and I have not.

…I want to say things of comfort, give hugs that will help, and be an ear to talk to…should any of them want or need that essential sounding board when lost in the anger, confusion and sadness of what has happened and what is yet to come, from it’s repercussions.

…And if I knew how, I’d want to tell my Dad…

…I guess I’d tell him…

…What?

…In all seriousness? Waiting for Godot would not be as long as waiting with this pen sitting in front of me tonight…

I really just need to not fuck this up.

~D

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2 Responses to “Wordless”

  1. Cecilyn Fairdew February 27, 2014 at 1:50 pm #

    If anyone can write these letters, it’s you. I’d trust you with mine if I had such letters to write. It’ll happen.
    XOXO from London

  2. Carolyn Cook February 27, 2014 at 5:50 pm #

    Wishing you luck, courage, and grace. I think you will do fine. Thanks again for sharing your words in this blog.

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