Something’s changed

Only a few of you know that I sent my dad pictures every single day for the last five years. It was something that started as a Christmas present in 2012 and just kept going. In the last five years, I sent dad 13,166 pictures. In all that time, I only missed 6 days and 2 of those days I was in the hospital.

Each morning, he would look at his digital Ceiva frame to see what I had been up to. About half of the time, he would send me an email with the exact same heading, “Question,” then he would ask something about the pictures I sent:
– who were the kids on the monkey bars?
– did you really have ice cream twice in one day?
– what movie did you see?
– did your chili turn out well?
– why don’t you hire someone to rake those leaves?

It wasn’t anything special, but it was constant, this exchange we had. Even though we were far apart, I liked that Dad knew what I was up to.

But now, for the last few weeks, I have stopped taking pictures.

Except today.

I forgot dad was gone and I took this photo of Vanessa and her man coming to take my sleeper sofa away after I posted it on Facebook. She said she had been sleeping on the floor the last few days – I did not ask, but I was glad to help a sister out. When they were ready to drive away, I took this picture, thinking, “Man, dad’s going to like this one.”

But, it won’t get sent to the Ceiva frame and it will never be seen by dad.

Sometimes, when I let myself be unrealistically optimistic I can hope that mom and dad are together somewhere eating chips and sitting around talking to each other. That Papa and Grammy, from both sides, are there too. And that Aunt Jean, who my mother adored, shows up too. But, I know that’s not exactly the way heaven works.

Maybe the energy of dad has found the energy of mom and they are swimming around each other again. That’s the best I can hope for, pray for.

I can’t let myself think about Thanksgiving or Christmas, when dad loved gifted us with his presents. I can’t think about the trip we would have planned for the fall Amish Country tour. I can’t bear to think about aged cheddar, or Gin Rummy, or giving a sermon without dad in the wings. Today I am sad for today. Today, I am sad that dad will not see this picture and laugh – as he putzed around his condo in his slippers tomorrow morning. Today, I am sad that he will never know again that I am thinking of him.

There have been many blessings of this too – knowing who and how people show up. Seeing the love others had for dad. Being a solid team with my brother. Appreciating dad’s organization, his friendships, his simple grace. Reconnecting with old friends. Spending so much time with Jean and my nieces and nephew. Understanding how little material stuff matters. Absolute thanks for longterm care and hospice workers. There is always good in the hard, of that I am sure. But, I do not feel any of that goodness. I just feel the bones of loss jabbing me in the ribs and causing tears to rise up on the waves of sobs. I miss you, Dad tonight. So much. I hope you know that – somehow, I hope you know.

Thank you, God

I thought my ex had moved to Indiana a few years ago, and that relieved me.  I would never have the chance to run into her again.  But just now, driving home on a constant cut-through street, I recognized her tippy toe walk. I always recognize her walk.  She was making her way around the block with a tiny toy dog and her wife, who gathered up a big hocker, and spit while they were walking.  Turns out, she’s lived 4 minutes away the whole time.

When I have seen her in the past (which was rare), I was filled with emotions.  Shame, anger, massive distrust were at the head of a many dog pack.  This time, I said out loud, “Thank you, God.”

Thank you for everything that has come after.  The coming out. The sermons at church.  Dating Tia, who taught me more about trust than anyone I know.  Dating Kim, who made me feel something akin to a very familiar home.  Adventures alone.  Telling the truth.  Getting layers and layers of counseling.  Writing. Photography. Artwork. Adopted families.  Riding my bike. Going to the pool.  Being an IB Coordinator.  Going to Ghost Ranch. And Austin.  And Houston. And every inch of Amish Country

When we were at Supper Club last Sunday, we talked about the questions: what was the happiest time in your life and why?  I won’t tell you what others said, though the conversation was rich, but I said, there was a time before happiness was possible and time after which happiness was guaranteed.  The pivot date was February 16th, 2008.

That’s the day I walked around Fernway School telling people who I was and who I loved and that I was sad she was leaving me.  Desperately sad.  Before then, I was filled with hatred and embarrassment.  But that day, I finally became human and I have never turned back.

When we met months after she left me, she tried to take credit for my foray into cranial sacral therapy and my honesty at work.   That’s how much she needed to believe she had done the right thing.

I knew that was bullshit then, and I know it is bullshit today.

In crisis, I took charge. I owned up. I stepped forward.  I risked it all to find and feed a new iteration of myself.  That was not not her, that was all me.

I am more beautiful than I was then – not actually physically, but my smile tells the truth.  I am smarter.  I am more confident.  I am more loving (though not loving enough). I am more giving.  I listen with both ears.  I am unrelentingly committed to the truth.

I don’t lie. I don’t spit. I would never own a teeny weeny dog.

She ended up with the right woman and so did I.  I ended up with me.

Thank you, God.