Dad is Still Dead

My 30th birthday (2010). The last time my Dad and I were in Vegas together. He bought me my first drink at 21 and taught me how to play Blackjack :-)

I called my mom today. She was in the middle of something so she called me back later while I was at work. I saw the phone ringing as it was charging behind one of the computers, but I couldn’t pick up. The screen read “Mom and Dad.” And I didn’t realize until now that “Mom and Dad” is actually just “Mom” now. It was a curious revelation that didn’t send me to tears, as so many other things have in these past three months. Instead, I simply felt a dull, dead echo. “Mom and Dad” calling. Well, no, actually, they aren’t. Dad is dead. So he’s not really calling. That weird, logical voice in my head that helps sort out these kinds of things is a welcome alternative to the weepy voice of mourning so often present in my grief.

But I’m not going to edit their iphone contact. I’m just going to look at some pics of my Pops, the way he always grins so huge in his pictures. And be grateful that grief is not always an engulfing sea of despair. Sometimes it’s a cool and clinical observation that things have irrevocably shifted, and life has moved forward. That my life is actually quite good. And these good things in my life have been ethereally overseen by a newly transitioned spirit that once identified as “Bruce Alan Howard”, who is now beyond all earthly recognition or categorization, free of his frail and broken-down body and unlimited in his physical boundaries. And this man who could not properly see me nor protect me in the last few years, because his illness and age and dementia prevented him from doing so, can now transmute in seamless, shapeless waves of light, recognizable only by perception rather than material classification.

I miss him every day. The older and wiser I get, the more we have to talk about. The more I understand where he has been coming from all these years, and I yearn to hear his voice saying “Hello Christina!” cheerfully on the other end of the telephone. He always called it a “telephone.”

I dream about him at night, and in my dreams he always looks so old and frail. I would love to have a dream where he’s in his sixties, still robust and capable. Able to take my car to the dealership to get it serviced first thing in the morning, which he would eagerly do whenever I came home to visit, because while I was lazy in bed, he would rise at the crack of dawn (as he always did). He’d get the oil changed for me, and he’d fill the gas tank. He’d check my tire pressure and remind me he’d left the gauge in the glove compartment. “And take care of those tickets!” he’d warn me, because during his inspection, he would have found the handful of paper slips I’d stuffed casually in there to forget about.

Every time I get my car serviced, I know he’s nodding his approval.