Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Happy Birthday, Daddy.

Today is my father's birthday. Or would be, if he were alive.
He died 19 years ago as of 3/15/09. I was 12 years old.

I feel extraordinarily sad. This isn't always the case, but today was an intuitively sad day. One of those days where I felt mired in dreams upon waking, unable to shake off the plots, and underneath it all, a sadness lingered. A body clock watching the calendar, knowing what day it was. It took me a few passes of calendars until I had the heart to check; check-paying bills until I confessed that is what it was.

Today is a writing day. Usually they are Mondays, but my writing buddy and I both couldn't do it this last Monday. So it got moved to a Wednesday. I often overlook simple things like, say, my father's birthday for things like this. Today I will write, a lot, in fact - work on one or the other novel, send in some flash fiction - but I will do it at home, in bed, instead of at Bridge's. I just couldn't leave the house this morning, needing to stay within the square circle of my home.

My cats are here and they spiral around me, playing with anything they construe is a toy. My computer backs itself up to the system Dylan set up. Our sheets need washing but at least they smell like us. Giving myself the break of a slight delusion of permanence helps for this morning. Call it a handicap (I don't, actually, I think it's fine) but it's all the space I need.

I've been reading an essay in Harper's Magazine this month which talks about getting older and dying in a really intriguing way. "Curtain Calls (The fever called "living" is conquered at last)" by Edward Hoagland. Here are some quotes, which have been particularly fruitful for me today:
On the impermanence of life: "We're here to feast our eyes and hug loved ones, with our joy perhaps analogous to photosynthesis in plants -- an energizing process of oxygenation that I like to imagine helps keep the Big Bang's spin to life's origins going on and on."
and on death:
"Accepting death as a process of disassembly into humus, then brook, and finally seawater demystifies it for me. I don't mean I comprehend bidding consciousness good-bye. But I love the rich smell of humus, of true woods soil, and of course the sea--love rivulets and brooks, lying earthbound, on the ground. The question of decomposition is not pressing or frightening. From the top of the food chain I'll reenter the bottom..(want a minimal coffin, to speed the transition to multiple energies)."

The fact is, though, that I don't think of my dad this way. There is no solace in an image of peace for him. This is my grief. It may be universal but the pain pours through my own heart at the moment. So I will make space around that heart, let her write, drink lots of tea and just be. Maybe some Buffy later. Easy does it. This is no concept, which though that writer tried to be truthful, the article is. This is it, the real long haul, the role of those who miss and not those who are missing. Coming to terms with one's own death isn't the same as accepting someone else's. They may be intertwined - that I would accept - but definitely not the same.

Last night I dreamt of theater, of being stuck stage managing a show (this was my first career, and one I don't miss). I was stressed - didn't know the show somehow, and others had their roles all figured out, though I didn't. I woke laughing at the obvious imagery. Today I will accept that others do have this pain, it is not mine alone. This will help, to some level. Then after that is done, I will accept that part of it is mine alone, as much as there is a me, and be with that. The curtain never falls on sadness. Sometimes it's a scrim, sometimes velvet, but there is always a heart within, beating until it becomes a stream without a body.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Miriam, I love this.

    I love it for more reasons than you can imagine, one of them being the way you're gentle with yourself on a day like this.

    Sending you some good vibes and big hugs. XO

    PS - I removed my comment above because of a serious grammar typo. Not so gentle with myself, it seems :-)

  3. Thank you, Gabi. And your delete plus comment makes me giggle...