I decided to take a walk this morning, even though the weather was threatening. I was thinking about dad. One of the last things that he could really take pleasure in was taking a walk through the neighborhood. I was remembering him as I walked our familiar route.
On the walk, with the cold spring wind blowing all around, I was thinking about the difference between feeling grief and feeling loss. I didn’t feel grief when my Dad passed away and I think that’s because he was in so much pain and confusion when he died that his passing was, frankly, a relief. But I did and do feel loss.
For whatever reason, the feeling of loss has been strong recently, six months after his death. I’ve also been recalling my mother and a couple of close, dear friends who also passed away while I was focused on taking care of my father. Maybe it’s because the weather has been gray and cold, even this far into spring.
There was a stark and sudden change in routine that came with his death. One day, I was completely and utterly focused on his care and the next day, he was just gone – forever. Since the day he died, I have been slowly but surely finding my way to a new routine or, at least, seeking to make some decisions about what I want my new routine to become. The sense of loss is slow to build, like the buildup of cigarette smoke on a windshield.
I haven’t been taking walks much since he died but it felt like a way to remember some of our best later moments. On the way back, I went to kick a cigarette butt into the storm drain and missed it. I bent over to flick it with my hand and my phone slipped out of my shirt pocket and dropped into gutter.
I use my phone as an mp3 player and I had Don McLean’s “American Pie” playing through the ear bud. Just as the phone slipped under the grate and into the water, I heard “This’ll be the day that I die. . .” and then silence – nothing. That phone, I thought, is gone forever.
But there’s a new one coming in the mail.