I’ve been wanting to write on this memory for a few days or weeks now, and it’s basically this:
The last Christmas I spent with my dad, in 2012, I was utterly congested, the way I was a few weeks ago, in this current year, and the way you get from spring. Then, in that year, I got it not from spring but from something having to do with my ears–but in any case, I hardly slept on the 2012 Christmas Eve, after the St. Alban’s Christmas service and the trumpet-playing and alto-singing and political humor-avoiding, and was feeling pretty miserable on Christmas day. The kind of miserable-feeling where you don’t want to be around anyone or put on a show or do anything but navel-gaze at the collected mucus. I can’t really explain it anymore, and I couldn’t explain it that well then either. I just knew that I didn’t want to be around anyone but I also didn’t want to eat the Christmas meal by myself, so I asked my dad to eat with me. And so we sat there in the kitchen and ate in silence, and I felt bad, and he sat there with me and let himself feel bad because I felt bad. And then, later, we sat on the couch, and I read my John Dufresne, and he read his Alan Furst (probably), for the rest of the afternoon. It was perfect.
In her first book, Molly Wizenberg writes a lot about the loss of her dad, including this:
“The thing is, now that he’s gone, I don’t really remember the bad things. When someone dies, we tend to tell the same stories over and over: the happy ones, or the funny ones, or at the very least, the poignant ones. We turn those stories this way and that, studying them like diamonds or ancient scrolls, taking note of every detail. We don’t tell the sad stories, or the ugly, warted ones. After a while, they fade like old newsprint, and we start to forget.”
She continues: “…it’s hard for me to show you exactly who my father was, because I don’t know anymore. And, to be perfectly honest, I don’t want to. I’m not interested in wrapping him up in a bow with a tidy bow. He would hate that.”
I don’t totally know what to make of that, the way I don’t totally know what to make about a lot of things that people write about grieving and remembering and loss. Planning to read C.S. Lewis’ memoir on his wife, and I’m sure I’ll have plenty of feelings about that. But for now, I feel okay that I can look back on that memory and say that it was, if not perfect, at least good, and whole, every action linked by “ands”; no “yets,” or “buts.”