Monday, May 17, 2010


It is so very complicated. Not unlike our other up-and-down relationships - years gone by, details forgotten, then remembered in an instant.

My friend Jean who works in hospice calls the sudden just-happened-yesterday moments "grief bursts." She is so right. Attending a funeral that feels a little too familiar. Insert my family members instead of these random strangers and we are at Dad's funeral all over again. The songs the choir sings - are they singing for you, Dad?

Dad seems to keep showing up in the form of great and majestic birds...not surprising, really. The other day, a Peregrine falcon flew alongside Scott's car, right at eye level on the drivers' side, looking at him while he drove. They beheld each other. It made Scott cry and opened up his heart in a big, momentary way. Earlier, there was the eagle that flew right over us and landed in a tree a mere twenty feet away, too low for an eagle to land, too close to not be some kind of sign of your presence. And the loon(s). And the hawks that circle above or the black crows, always flying in twos, that lead me on many days. I see you. I'm glad you are flying now. You waited a long time to fly.

About a week ago (or two now?), my friend died. Literally five minutes later, another friend's husband passed. The next day as my mother told me of both events, I felt them sit down in my heart and stay awhile. The heaviness of grief can be overwhelming. Our friend's husband's memorial was a few days later. Mom and I went and boy, if it didn't feel a little close for comfort. The wife, now widowed, gave a long message at her husband's service, attributing all his accomplishments and passions to his great strength of character, blessing his children by telling everyone how much she had loved him. It hurt, in a good way. The wife asked Mom to read a piece on grief. In it was the phrase, "grief is my friend." And Mom would not read that. She just couldn't. But I could have because I have become so entwined with that relationship, that "otherness" of Grief that it might as well be a member of the family.

It is not a friend in the sense of comforting - or maybe it is. But it is close to us, always present, showing its colors in different forms. Like the fact that at coming on two years past Dad's death, I am just about strong enough to finally read his fishing memoir. I loaned the book to a co-worker in hospice, a social worker, who wanted to read some stories to a patient who was basically unresponsive...except when a nurse showed him pictures of big fish he'd caught. So I passed on the stories. And maybe when I get the book back, I can actually read it without getting sick to my stomach and throwing it back on the shelf.

Dad, life is going on, but not without you. I am still pissed at you, don't get me wrong. But only because there is so much I'd like to be able to discuss with you. So many things we still have to do together. Like skydiving. And fishing up at Chazy. Going to the funeral of your best friend's daughter - I know you would never have chosen to miss it. And hiking up the correct side - the steep but MUCH SHORTER trail to the top of Locke's Hill. Mom showed it to us, and it wasn't so bad. We came down the back side, the longer trail you tried to ascend and I can see why you thought it was miserable!

We are making fajitas tonight and watching stupid TV. Want to join us? Wish you could.

I'll be looking for you in the sky, Dad. My Buddhist teacher (oh stop rolling your eyes!) says the sky is always there and all is well.

All is well, Dad.

Love, Al

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Little girls singing

There is a little girl who lives in the house behind our condos. Often when I am sitting outside on our patio, I can see her through the trees. She is dancing or bouncing on the trampoline. And she is singing at the top of her lungs. Today she is singing and clapping while pacing back and forth.

She reminds me of me, around age 8 or 9. I used to spend hours in our backyard growing up in Chicago, swinging on the old rusty yellow swingset, pumping fast and flying as high as I could. I would sing through all the songs I knew, especially the ones I learned in music class at school.

When we learned the patriotic songs like "America the Beautiful" or "The Star Spangled Banner," I loved singing those at the top of my lungs. That was probably my most patriotic time and I felt proud of my country. I knew in my heart that the neighbors must enjoy my singing. :)

I also really loved to sing this little Simon & Garfunkel ditty:

Hello Lampost,
whatcha knowin'?
I've come to watch your flowers growin'.
Ain't you got no rhymes for me?
Do-it-n-do-do, feelin' groovy!

I got no deeds to do,
no promises to keep.
I'm dappled and drowsy and ready to sleep -
let your morning time drop
all its petals on me.
Do-it-n-do-do, feelin' groovy!

Da da da da--da--da--da, feelin' groovy.