As February winds down, I am confronted with the birth of March. It is a month that presents a paradox – the arrival of Spring, but the anniversary of my father’s death. This year will mark six years since we lost him. There are days that I still struggle to let go of his loss, but fail.
I still look for him. When I embark on my morning run and pass the Indian man in the checkered long sleeve shirt, sporting his bald head and glasses, I recognize my father. He loved walking, often dressing in street clothes to take his strolls through the neighborhood. I try to fill in the gaps, wondering if what I dismiss may be a sign or my father’s way of saying hello. When I receive a piece of mail with my father’s name and my address, does this represent his way of reminding me that he is still watching over us in his own way? Logic takes a bow and I realize that the man walking is just that, a man walking, and the mail addressed to a dead person is a mistake. I return to where I started, looking for ways to close the hole, fill in the space or compensate for the loss.
Grief presents no real rhythm. It sometimes comes with a push, like in the middle of the night, when the quiet screams, “You can’t call Dad for advice. He isn’t here anymore,” or a nudge, when a friend mentions in a conversation that her father took her kids to a special breakfast. Tears gather together in the corner of my eye and within a few minutes, I find myself wiping the trail of sadness from my face. Some days the reminders don’t appear. They hide until next time.
This past weekend, I cooked breakfast for my family. My husband and daughter craved omelets, sunny-side up. As the eggs sizzled on the pan, I made a passing comment to my husband, “My Dad loved to eat his eggs this way. I wonder if he can see us now.” We continued with breakfast and the day unfolded as usual, errands, lunch and a weekend nap. In the middle of the afternoon, I received a message from a friend who I knew from my childhood. She decided to reach out because of a dream she had about my family. In this dream, she saw my mom and my sister talking to me, while my father smiled in the periphery. At some point, she recalls telling me that my father is doing well and that he is watching over us. When I read this message, I started crying because only hours before I wondered about my father and it is as if he heard my plea and it manifested in her dream.
I could dismiss my thoughts and her dream as a coincidence, but my gut tells me that these intersections occur for a reason. In the last few weeks, my melancholy is more palpable because my father’s death anniversary looms as a backstory. Searching for a way to fill in the gaps, my friend’s message appeared as way to negotiate that space. It is temporary salve for my grief, but in that single moment, my space streamed with nostalgic memories, love and the thought that, somewhere, just maybe, my father’s out there loving and laughing with me.