Oh, what have I done!
My dear friend, who blogs at For Fathers Only, did the NaBloPoMo challenge last year, and I remember reading his posts and thinking “I’ll never get myself committed to that!”
But, then, an email came through my inbox today, inviting/challenging me to go for it, and, almost without thinking (although there was a moment of doubt), I followed the link, and signed up on the BlogHer site. Then, I saw the other responses to the initial invitation (it was on a listserv), and my heart sank, as I saw so many folks saying “Good luck, I’d never do that”, or variants of that message!
But, now I’ve committed, so here goes!
Today is All Saints Day, the day in Western christianity that commemorates all those who have attained the beatific vision in Heaven (according to Wikipedia, cited Nov 1, 2012). In Mexico, and other Latin countries, this day is Día de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead, a holiday that focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died (again, citing Wikipedia). This latter description has a ring that is familiar to a Jewish sensibility (Yom Kippur and other significant holidays, include Yizkor, the service for remembering the dead).
And, in the morning, yesterday, on my way in to work (after two days at home with restless boys thanks to Hurricane Sandy hitting the East Coast), I heard an interview with Eric Nuzum, but Kavitha Cardoza of WAMU, about his memoir, “Giving Up The Ghost.” In his book, he describes how he developed an obsessive fear of a ghost he believed to be haunting him, a little girl wearing a blue dress and screaming at him. The book (which, of course, I haven’t read) describes his process of what sounds like essentially desensitizing himself to a lot of places associated with death and possible hauntings, and getting to a point where he could let go.
It reminded me of the time, shortly after my first marriage formally fell apart, and I was sharing custody of my daughter with her dad, 50:50. She spent two weeks at a time with me, and two weeks at his place. The two weeks I spent alone were incredibly painful for me, and they brought back to mind how much I missed my father, who had died an accidental death just after she was born. He was 44 at the time, and I was just shy of 19. I had always been close to him, and always felt that I could share anything with him, and, in this time of crisis in my life, and feeling so alone, all I wanted was his understanding and love. I would get in the car, at night, and drive the 45 minutes from my home in Palo Alto to the beach. Driving through the cold night air, and it happened to be just about this time of year – October and November – I longed for my father to appear to me as a ghost. I was more than willing for it to be a hallucination. I didn’t care. I just wanted that connection, even if delusional. In fact, I remember getting angry – “Why can other people see ghosts of their dear departed, and I can’t?”. But, no matter how hard I struggled to pull a ghost from the mists of the ocean breezes, I stayed firmly rooted in the reality of the hear and now. And it hurt. It was so lonely.
It took many years to give up the hope that I would have another opportunity to connect with him directly. There were many times that I imagined that my dad hadn’t died at all, that the story of his demise was grossly overstated, and that he would reappear in my life some day, and everything would be right again. The Yizkor service has provided some comfort over the years, and sometimes a surprising degree of connection to the grief that I have sometimes suppressed over the years. And, as the cliche goes, times heals.
And, on this Dia de los Muertos, this Day of the Dead, I think of my father, and wonder if he’s been reincarnated, and, if so, into what (he was Buddhist, although, I don’t know how much he believed of that doctrine). But I remember him, and honor him, and dedicate my life and work to his memory. I love you, Dad.