It’s Five-Minute Friday…time to write for five minutes without thinking about it too hard and see what comes out, “not for comments or traffic or anyone else’s agenda. But for pure love of the written word. For joy at the sound of syllables, sentences and paragraphs all strung together by the voice of the speaker.” (from Five-Minute Friday at Tales from a Gypsy Mama)
Just a note for today: My rule is that I always write and publish my own five minutes before reading anyone else’s, even Lisa-Jo’s (who hosts this little writing party). Today, I’m struck by her piece especially, because her after is a little like mine. The grief of losing someone changes the fabric of who we are, putting holes there that can never be mended…and sometimes, those holes open up when we are least expecting it.
Deep breath- here we go…
I had to stop loading the stroller into the minivan when I saw him, briskly striding with purpose to his car in the parking lot at the metro station, navy blue crisp from the neat corners of the hat on top of his head to the creases ironed perfectly into the fronts of his pants. I nearly doubled over with the force of the gut-punch I felt, the air sucked out of my lungs, tears stinging my eyes, the five-year old girl inside me hollering, “Dad! Dad!” and waving her arms frantically, longing for him to see her.
He didn’t see her, of course…and I didn’t call after him, because he’s not my Dad. I’m not sure how long it has been since I’ve seen a man wearing that uniform, the one you wear to the base with a sweater on a regular ordinary day when you aren’t flying, so different from the green flight suit or the soft flannel shirts I love to press my face against, the ones that only come out on evenings and weekends.
After is the place you end up when the unthinkable has happened. And when your dad is gone and you were his little girl and he’s never there again to read you your bedtime story, after is where you are forever after. There are the big moments for missing him, sure- like graduation and your wedding and the birth of your children- but sometimes, I think the little ones are worse. The ones that sneak up on you when you’re putting your family in the car after a day at the museum and thinking about what’s for dinner. The ones that grab you and blast a hole right through your middle because you’re not expecting them.
He drove off, and I craned my neck until I couldn’t see him any more…and as we got in our car and drove the other way, the lump in my throat made it hard to think about eating.