Looking back, to move forward

Two years ago on a rainy night, I felt my father’s last tight squeeze and last kiss. I remember I tilted my face to catch the kiss so it wouldn’t rub my cheek. I didn’t want his cologne to get on me because I knew I’d break out  in a rash and I was far from home, and I knew I had a long ways to go before I could take a shower. I had decided to drive down to Cape Cod from Concord so I could go to my niece’s Birthday dinner with my parents and my brother, Jamie at Sam Dieago’s in Hyannis. Then I would drive out to Western Mass afterwards and meet up with all my friends at the Harvest Ale, which I attend every year. That was the plan.

We had a delightful dinner. I gave my father my leftovers since I would be hitting the road after. I took pictures. I captured my Mother and Father holding up their frosty Margaritta’s and smiling into the camera. And after, at Jamie’s place, I captured Annette blowing out the candles on her Birthday cake with Grampy on the other side of it… blowing right there with her and Jamie in the middle. As far as I know, it was the last picture taken of Dad.

And all the while, I’ve been stuck. Stuck in this place of the inbetween. Too painful to move forward… to embrace my life, my writing, relationships, love… this blog. Even to finish my book. I’ve been stuck in the world of FaceBook, pretending I was OK. I was just allowing life to flow around me and not living it 100%. Occasionally, I would lift up my head, like a dog who found the scent and I’d find myself writing a poem or journaling in my journal. I’d make a half-hearted attempt to edit the book, but really I’d make even MORE excuses why I wasn’t moving forward on it. But in reality, I realized, that I didn’t WANT to move forward, because if I did, that would mean I would be moving forward without Dad. And that reality just sucks!

So here I am tonight coming to a stark place of painful truths. I can’t move forward without it hurting, but sometimes it has to hurt in order for us to go forward. We have to move through the pain, the tears and the excuses and JUST DO IT! So I stood in my fear and I asked Facebook, “What happens if I just Do it?” and I remained frozen for a few more days just sitting with the fears. Then I realized that today was the anniversary of the last time I saw Dad. What a perfect time to just start doing it. Life… living it fully.

And when I started feeling fully, I started hearing my inner voice again… my muse, that whispers to me every minute of the day… just write, just breathe in and the words will flow out. In and out, once more. You were born a poet. Don’t forget who you are! Don’t lose who you are because part of you feels lost in grief. The old day is ending and you get to choose how to move forward.

And every year on this night, I will say,
“Good bye, Dad. I love you,” as I did that night two years ago…
as you hugged and kissed me
for the last time ever
…after the last meal shared
and the last singing of Happy Birthday.

I can’t help but count.
When the heart is aching… you count.
You count days, months, years
and holidays lost.

You just do.

And you remember
ALL the moments: the Red Sox games, Christmas mornings,
Turkey’s carved, meals he cooked,
arguments had, songs you sang together, working the
Nantucket Yacht club, him teaching you to waltz,
the fuzzy beard scraping your cheek, that time he taught you to fish,

and all the lessons in the kitchen that you never asked for
but got anyway… because he’s Dad. It’s what he did.

and you remember
all the moments he missed too…

You just do.

Goodbye, Dad. I miss you