I miss my dad.
Considering the number of interviews I have done and stories I have written over the years about dealing with grief, you would think it would be easier to go through it. I know all the catch phrases and the stages. I know the resources of people to talk to and I know that things take time.
It is not like I am reduced to a sobbing and quivering blob of jello when I think about my dad. For me it is more like living with bad joints. The ache is always there in the background, but becomes more noticeable on damp, dreary days.
In many ways I think I should be further along in this grieving process than I am. After all, I have had five months of being accustomed to the idea of my dad not being around, although I have had to catch myself a few times as I started dialing his number wanting some car or household repair advice. I am not sure what I would do if someone answered his old cellphone number, they would probably think I was some crazy person.
October 24, would have been my dad’s 73rd birthday. For the past two decades, my standing birthday gift to my dad was to get him a subscription to The Star News. Gift subscriptions are awesome, because it is something that the recipient gets every week all year long. For my dad, reading The Star News was a way to keep tabs on what I was doing and what was going on in my life.
Over the years, he also began following what was going on in the community. Out of the blue he would ask me about what was happening with random local issues, often it was in connection to what was going on in his own community — the same sorts of issues impact communities wherever they are. My dad loved reading the Vox Pops and especially the ones from Linda Osolkowski. Although he didn’t always agree with her, he felt bringing things up for discussion was a good thing.
I got the renewal notice for my dad’s subscription put on my desk last week. It is still sitting there.
Part of me knows I should change it to be in my mom’s name. Life goes on and we must all go along with it. I know it is childish, but another part of me doesn’t want to lose that small connection, as if there is some betrayal to his memory or a finality beyond lowering the coffin into the ground in erasing one name and replacing it with another.
I was reminded of my wife’s uncle who went more than a decade before recording a new greeting on his answering machine, because he didn’t want to record over his wife’s voice.
I was thinking about this as I was laying awake the other night. It is in the dark hours of the early morning when you second guess yourself. It is also when you remember. Memory is a weird thing. Often the clearest bits are random moments. Horsing around in the pool with my dad and brothers. Playing basketball in our backyard on a hot summer night. Slowly freezing solid on a cold night as I held a flashlight as he worked on the family car. Sharing some truly awful pun-filled humor.
I smile at those memories, and for a second the weight I was unaware of carrying lessens.
I like to think of the grieving process as similar to carrying around pocketfuls of sand. Over time, the bulk of the sand is scattered and eventually only a few grains remain. No matter how many times you shake out the pockets, it is impossible to knock every grain loose.
I need to go renew my mom’s subscription to The Star News now.
Brian Wilson is News Editor at The Star News.