“Time marches on. And sooner or later you realize, it’s marching right across your face”
– Dolly Parton
My father has been dead 15 years, as of yesterday. He was a wonderful man, and for years I kept him “in the loop” of our lives emotionally and in thought. I remember for a long while I focused on the bad things he’d avoided by dying. For example, he missed the tragedy of 9/11, and the subsequent changes that caused in the world. In death, he remained innocent to it.
On the ten year anniversary of his death, I got a tattoo (admittedly after 3 martinis), to honor him. A large, colorful US Navy anchor on my left upper arm. After about a two month identity crisis directly afterward, I have grown to love it as part of me.
At the 15 year mark, the pertinent dates of his life still make my consciousness. My parents’ wedding anniversary (January 15th), his birthday (in May), and, his death. Admittedly, I have a strange “thing” for dates. I still recall the birthdates of lots of past friends, and the exact date I lost my virginity. This has always surprised me, as I am quite unsentimental about most things. Maybe storing dates is my way of relegating memories to their proper place and amount of energy.
How we feel about loss is dependent on so many variables of the people and situations. There is no right or wrong way or timing – only that, like all things, it changes over time. I can tell you from my process, I learned the following:
-You can continue to have a relationship with someone long after they are gone. Even now, I sometimes consider how my dad might have reacted to a person or event – taking his “advice” posthumously.
It happens less and less as the years go by, but it’s there, and I am so grateful.
Here is a poem I wrote on the subject at about the 10 year mark.
The charismatic sheriff left town.
He was the only one who believed I’d be the people’s poet.
Words are, after all, the perfect veil for the encomiast.
He was dead tired.
dead man walking.
I watched him fold up like a gate leg table,
speaking in tongues of undulating stares.
Still unable to get yoked up to the jesuswagon.
Oh, how the preacher tried!
Just plain dead.
So now I brush and love his white horse.
The one he rode at forty.
And the silvered leather tack gets polished
every time I speak of him.
(you see, this poem is earning its keep)
In town, the street again filled with daily dust,
and the saloon door swings one direction.
Unladylike for a gal to drink alone.
But land sakes,
I’d give my spurs for one more sunset.
Thank you for listening. I bid you peace, and welcome your comments or contact in confidence at firstname.lastname@example.org.