December 02, 2003

loss, losing, lost

...Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall...

I've been thinking a lot about my father this past week. A craving of sorts to go back to the house, the stairs I climbed that day when the earth unfurled on its axis and then put itself back together inside out.

To see his bedroom. To see mine. To see the living room with the picture window where I played the piano with him in the morning before the school bus came.

So much of what I remembered I've forgotten. Need a knock to the side of my head with my hand, refocus my eyes, to know if what I thought I saw was real. Was any of it real?

...Humpty Dumpty had a great fall...

And to go to his grave. It's been years. I think eight, maybe only seven. Who visits now? I haven't seen the plot with 1998 filled in on my grandmother's stone. I remember when all of the tombstones except my father's read: - _____. Now they're all filled in. Room for one more still. I shudder. Wonder who will fill the extra spot. And when.

I remembered today that his birthday is coming up, and his mother's, my grandmother. Hers the 13th and his the 17th? Or is it the 16th?

I want to know if he died alone.

I don't want to pain anyone by asking the question.

Or me by hearing the answer.

...All the king's horses and all the king's men...

I know he went to the hospital a few days before dying. I do know no one told me. I thought he was in his bedroom the whole time. That must have been what they said. Shhhh. Daddy's resting. I knew he was sick. But I thought he was there. He wasn't even there.

If he could have, even through the pain of a fast-killing cancer, he wouldn't have missed these seconds, minutes, years, decades of his children's lives. That's the only thing I know without corroboration. That is a gift he gave me. You are worth it.

oh December.

How must his last birthday have been? To be dead by March, 90 days later, what was that last birthday like for him? Was I there? Did we sing?

Innocence lost.

Either way.

He wasn't here long enough for me to mature, call him Dad instead of Daddy. At five, you have a daddy.

...Couldn't put Humpty together again...

And then, sometimes, you don't.

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