life on life’s terms

January 18, 2009

Or not. Unless we’re talking the wh0le shebang. As in life’s beginning and end.

And that’s what we’re talking about.

Right now as I’m typing I’m pretty sure my sister is talking with the Marion County Coroner who has emailed my sister a photo of my dad’s tattooed arm so that she can identify my dad’s body. Apparently there was a fire at my dad’s house this morning. Firefighters found him. He was taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

It’s been an hour or two since I started this post. My sister made the ID. Then she called me after wards. She said the coroner was incredibly nice to her. I asked my sister to send me the photo of my dad’s arm and she did. I needed to see him. Get his death in my mind more concretely. I am so far away and my dad was mostly absent from my life even without all this geographical distance. Add onto that the suddenness of it his death and it was just getting to abstract. I don’t know if this is the right place to air these thoughts. But I think I just want to be witnessed. The experience of having him in my life was not known to many folks and I don’t want his passing to have the same kind of loneliness.

When I was talking to my sister today she told me the sweetest story about my dad comforting her once as a kid when she was sad and angry with him. It was a little heartbreaking, the story she told me, but I was grateful for the tenderness of it.  I think my sister and I both harbored secret fantasies that maybe one day we’d have some heartfelt conversation with our dad about his absence in our lives. It never happened; now, it never will. I was trying to think of my last conversation with my dad. I talked to him on the phone maybe twice a year and it was usually around the holidays. But this Christmas he was sick and we didn’t connect, so that means the last time I talked to him was before the holidays. I think that was when we were talking about this Byzantine church he goes to and I asked him if I could go with him the next time I came home. And he said, “I dunno.” And when I pressed him on it he said,”I gotta go.”

I miss him. I always have.

Thank you all for being my witness here. It means the world to me.


14 responses to “life on life’s terms”

  1. ned says:

    Liz, I’m so sorry. I don’t have the words, but you’re in my thoughts. We’ll talk soon. Hang in there.

  2. pep says:

    Like Ned, I don’t find I have the words. Or I do, but they’re all tired cliches that sound empty at a time like this.
    Your strength and openness here have inspired me for a while and I’m especially aware of that right now.
    Peace to you and your family.

  3. liz says:

    thank you both. you thought and support mean so much to me. they really do. it’s a tough job to witness and i’m grateful to have you there.

  4. Hope says:

    Liz, I am sorry, too. I hadn’t read your blog in a while, but tonight Ned and I were chatting and he told me your news. I am grateful for my brother and sister. ‘Sounds as if you are grateful for your sister, too. A sibling is not the same as a father, of course, but it’s not nothing. My thoughts go out to both you and your sister.

    Sending you sympathy…

  5. liz says:

    Thank you so much Hope. I feel comforted by knowing a large number of folks who have been through this, like you and Ned. Something in knowing you all made it through and you are out there just makes me feel less alone. And yes, I’m incredibly thankful for my sister. To be in this with her.

  6. Hope says:

    ‘Thinking of you again today, Liz. ‘Sending you mental hugs…

  7. liz says:

    Thank you Hope. Mental hugs are really nice.

  8. Editor B says:

    Oh my. I am so sorry to read this. My sympathies. This has got to be difficult, and I’m sure you’ll be drawing on hidden reserves. Take care.

  9. liz says:

    thank you so much, B. i read you blog all the time. your letters to your daughter are quickly becoming a fave. and please, consider your blog one of my hidden reserves. oh, hopefully that doesn’t feel burdensome. i meant it in a good way.

  10. Editor B says:

    Speaking of letters to my daughter, I just finished the eleventh one, and I mentioned your father’s passing, and yet I didn’t link here. Normally when I mention something I learned through a blog post I link to it, yet in this case it felt… I don’t know… intrusive or wrong somehow, even though I felt quite certain you wouldn’t find it so. I guess there’s a strange psychology to such things. I just thought you might find that interesting too, so I’m passing it along.

  11. liz says:

    that is interesting and i read your blog and was touched you mentioned my dad’s death, but i never thought about why you might not have linked to it. i remember when you blogged about xy’s miscarriage and having a similar feeling about not wanting to be intrusive. but here we both are chronicling these kind of events and for me in part it’s just about getting witnessed.

  12. Hope says:

    Sending you a mental hug again today. 🙂

  13. JimA says:

    I’m late in reading and responding. When my dad died, writing about it helped me to hold the feelings and really feel them, rather than shoving them aside and filling the void with you-name-it. I guess I’m just saying that I get it, and I’m glad to be here.

  14. » four years ago today says:

    […] slightly panicked that I had forgotten the date of his death. And I had to go back and look it up here on my blog. The forgetting part, not just of his death, but of him, is strange and unsettling. I’ve […]

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