Today is the third anniversary of my dad’s death. In some ways, it feels like I have just begun the grieving process. I’ve been so busy learning how to be without him – how to represent him in the world now that he is gone, how to represent myself in the world now that he is gone – that I think I forgot to just feel the pain of it all.
I mean, I did feel pain, months and months of it. For awhile it felt like I had no skin. I was a raw, open, vulnerable vessel, and it was impossible. And so for awhile, I self-medicated my way to buffer the suffering. And I’m glad I did. It was too much. But, as we all know, when you delay the pain, that is all you are doing, delaying it. And so now I get to feel it, and that is okay, because I feel like now I CAN feel it, and hold it, and rock it like a baby and tell it, “It’ll be okay. You will be okay.”
I’m no longer afraid of the pain because I now see that it is my pain, and the more I feel it, the more I feel like myself. I am Kelly. I am a daughter. I am a woman. I am a thinker. I am a feeler. I am a writer. I am here to think and feel and write and share. This is who I am. I can’t help it anymore than I could keep my father or mother from death. It is what it is.
This afternoon, I’ll be going down to Venice to eat a cheeseburger in honor of my dad and his favorite hole in the wall bar. The memories I have with him and of him, I will stitch together into a little pouch and crawl into to find some warmth this week. And then I will let them echo through me as I step back into the river of life that rushes by and wants to take me along with it. But for a moment, it will be 1972, I will be seven, and my dad and I will be happily eating a cheeseburger enjoying our endless summer together.