PlazaJen: Passion Knit

Sunday, November 12, 2006


The Grief thing, it is eternal. It ebbs, it flows. It sits way in the back of the classroom, then one day it's front & center, waving wildly. I am bracing myself for the holidays, not that I spent a lot of them with my father in the past 20 years, but more for the Norman-Rockwellian nostalgia that assaults us all this time of year. For all my bracing, and thinking, and therapy, and good ol' cognitive work, there are Unexpected Moments, that seem to come from nowhere, that take me by surprise.

I was in a terrific mood this morning. I'd spent most of yesterday in a trance, knitting furiously, cleaning the garage, doing "stuff", and while I never felt that I was actively thinking about anything in particular, I could feel myself zoning out. So when I started to get ready to run to the store this morning, I felt like I was snapping back in to place. There was great music on the radio, I was shimmying and singing along, and then - blam - as I stepped out of the shower, great wrenching sobs. It happened, I suppose, because I was thinking about my dog, Polly. And how she would have stayed in Agnes' kennel this weekend, and how I'd checked to make sure there was still a top on that kennel, because the doghouse would've given Polly a great launching pad to jump/climb right on out. And I saw my Dad's face. How I'd have imagined he looked that day, the first time he saw Aggie sail by the kitchen window, or into his workshop, out of her kennel from her own industriousness and problem-solving. And the mixture of chagrin and pleasure, irritation and delight, that he had a smart dog, despite having done something wrong. Perhaps I saw it enough as a kid, when he'd look at me with those same conflicting feelings. But I saw his squint, his head tilt, and then the flashbulbs began. It's hard to explain, to describe it, our brains have such complexity as they send images and memories and signals. But in these times of utter grief, without an "event" or clear correlation, it feels like the old instamatic flash cubes, the FlipFlash, bursting with light and crackling into shattered opacity.
I saw the hospice nurse, holding his wrist, pronouncing he was gone. I felt James' hand on my shoulder, I felt Dad's hand in mine. I see the nurse so clearly, her brown hair, her glasses.
I heard his voice on the phone, as we laughed about some smart ass comment I'd made.
I saw his old red down jacket.
I heard that sound, his expression of amusement, as his mouth opened and his lips pulled back and I can't describe it but it sits on the tape in my mind, one of my favorite things to hear, because it meant he thought something was funny, and he was smiling.
I thought I heard his voice on my drive Friday, after Brenda called me again to say the weather'd gotten worse, and before I called James to check the roads. I heard him say, "This isn't a good idea", as though he'd said it on the phone. I know it was my own mind, cautioning me, taking his voice because he was the wisest person I ever knew.

Like flashcubes, these moments burn bright and then they are gone. The gut-wrenching pain and sobbing subsides. I know it gets easier, I do. My puzzle-loving brain still wants, sometimes, to pick up my grief, and figure out how to undo it all. To make him alive, to erase everything that happened. But I can't. Just like I can't make the spent bulb flash anew.
posted by PlazaJen, 10:56 AM