My Dad Died Today.

Children laughing on a playground in the distance. Leaves falling cautiously from the trees. A few conscientious dissenters into my lap. Sober country soundtrack playing behind me. Sun warming my tear-streaked face. Bought a bottle of wine and a bottle of nail polish at the store on my longer drive home. Just felt like the right thing to do in this moment. Now I sit here with my dog, trying to remember good things. Trying hard.

I kind of want to be defeated today. I want to have permission to throw in the towel — just for a few moments. I don’t want to do a damn thing. I want to sit here, in the sun, on the deck that belongs to a house that once belonged to my failed marriage- and drink my wine, and pet my dog, and try to resurrect something positive from a past I have worked so diligently to distance myself from in this lifetime.

First thing today, a former student knocked on my classroom door to tell me she had earned an A on her college admission essay. An hour or so later, a close friend who had moved away a few years ago told me she was moving home in a few months. And a few hours after that, a close friend told me her significant other had found someone else, and just texted her to tell her. In the midst of all of this, my brother called me to tell me my Dad had passed away in the early morning hours today. My head and heart are sifting through all of this.

I have sat in this same chair, all day. Watched the sun change phases. Squirrels leap in sequence, hour by hour, limb to limb, in front of me. Yet I am immovable. Frozen in this retrospective. Trying to remember good things. My back stiff. Almost painful. My heart heavy. A palpable weight on my chest. Even finding it hard to breathe in some moments. The warmth of my dog on my lap… the waning sun… the love and kindness of my family… my friends in messages, sentiments. Grateful and sad… and fending off tears, minute to minute.

The sun is fading. I am thanking God for dogs. And country music. My love of those two things came from my Dad. There is my silver-lined retrospective as the sun sets on this day. Riding in his car, hanging out the window to avoid the smoke from his KOOL Mild’s, feeling the vibrations of the music in the car door as I clung to it. Our lab riding in the seat behind me. All set to some Garth Brooks. Much too young to feel this damn old…

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