another amazing sunrise which somehow led to me thinking about my dad

October 4, 2012

Looking at the Cascade range silhouetted against the sunrise this morning made me think of looking at a picture in a book or a travel magazine. it was a very “this is the northwest – it is stunning” moment. It is amazing that sunrises on the tram, even with 70 people crowded in the cabin, can be so amazing to look at. I know I am repeating myself writing about this, but I can’t help it. How does one stop talking about an amazing thing?

Sometimes, during the thick of rainy season I will try to remind myself that all the amazing sunshine is still right there; it’s just behind the cloud cover. Occasionally, the trick works and this idea makes me feel less desperate for the sun. Other times it makes me feel all “dead duck,” inf act, I’d say almost wretched if I inclined to be dramatic about it, and I want jump on a plane as fast as I can and top the clouds so I can finally see the blue sky again.

There are still times I think of flying home after my dad died, leaving Portland early on a grey and cloudy February morning, falling asleep and then waking up somewhere over the upper midwest. The sky was so clear, which felt bittersweet, and I stared out of the window, looking down at the typical patchwork of farmland that makes up so much of the midwestern landscape. It was both a sad and comforting thing to look at because I had been ruminating on and writing about that landscape for many months before my dad’s death, re-remembering everything I loved about the Indiana as a place and how it was almost like this metaphor for who I am and how I go about being in the world. I had even gone that summer before my dad died, in large part, because I was worried I was just imagining that I loved the landscape and was kinda scared that I had fallen into a deep and delusional bout of nostalgia, as opposed to having real and true insight. And I’d felt so relieved and affirmed and so like, “yes, I do actually know myself,” to get home and discover that the all the places and things I had been re-remembering still did blow me away in my heart. And that quest, so to speak, was why I saw my dad alive for the last time, about 6 months before the fire.

I don’t know why stuff about my dad is coming up. I don’t feel sad and there’s nothing happening that would trigger it – no special dates, no dreams, no recent contacts with his friends or his other family. I’m not working on the his ww2 letter project. I don’t purposefully look at his photo every day. I even removed his dog tag from my key chain several months ago and as of right this second, I’m not even sure where I put it and strangely, I don’t feel panicked about that. So, I don’t know what’s going. Could it be as simple as the facts that 1) I am amazed that amazing things still happen, and 2) I am truely in my heart amazed by the amazing things? How long does grief last anyway? Do you know you’re done grieving because you cry at your desk over an email from another writer and you can’t stop talking on your blog about sunrises? I thought I was done grieving a year ago, but I can’t figure out why I’m talking about my dead dad now, in the same breath as wonderful stuff, like getting to see the sunrise.

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