Friday, October 23, 2015

Life unspooling

Yesterday was my daddy's birthday. He would have been 92. If there is a heaven, and we do in fact reunite with loved ones there after we leave this earth, then he and my mom were celebrating it together for the first time since he died 19 years ago. It was weird not to have my mom to call to acknowledge my dad's birthday. I could have called my brother, but it didn't occur to me. I imagined him out in the world, doing his life. I tried to do the same. Then I saw he'd written a sentimental post of Facebook, about missing our parents and how he and his sister were now orphans, and that's when I knew he was feeling it too.

Some people called to check up on me, cousins, aunts, to make sure I was doing okay and to tell me again how much they had always loved my parents. On the surface of it, I was doing okay. I even finished the first draft of my book yesterday. Daddy, with his impeccable work ethic, would have approved. Then I went out for cappuccinos with a woman I hadn't seen in 26 years. We worked at Life magazine together back in the day, then she moved to Manila, Cambodia, Australia, finally settling in Bangkok where she raised her son as a single mother and went unapologetically gray, then white-haired. She looks like a Renaissance painting, stunning really. We immediately fell into sharing our lives, as if no time at all had passed, and as if, to tell the truth, we had been closer back then than I'd realized.

There were so many lovely nuances to our reunion, but I don't have the energy to delve. I'll only say that seeing her helped bring me back to myself, helped me conjure who I was, who I can be. I need that right now—to know that I mattered. I feel sort of blah recently, everything blunted, removed. I get this weariness of myself sometimes, and I begin to plot geographic escapes, like holing up in a beautiful room in Paris and writing myself out of the sadness. Maybe I'll book an Airbnb and go edit my book on the Seine.

(As my friend, who edits UN documents, said yesterday, "The work we do, we can do anywhere. We're free.")



8 comments:

  1. There is a ting of heartbreak to this post but it is really so beautiful. The part about your brother, your friends and family, reuniting with your old friend and coming back to yourself..... Thank you so much for sharing, this is truly lovely, all of it- especially:

    ...she moved to Manila, Cambodia, Australia, finally settling in Bangkok where she raised her son as a single mother and went unapologetically gray, then white-haired. She looks like a Renaissance painting, stunning really.

    That bit is so stunning it took away my desire for a photo!

    I'm sorry for your loss, grateful for your perspective, and overjoyed to hear about your first draft! Congratulations. I am sure your father is proud :)

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    1. Dear Hannah, such a generous and kind comment, so filled with empathy. You clearly know this out of sorts feeling. It does help to feel as if we are not so alone in it, so thank you, friend, though I don't wish it on you at all.

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  2. It is so good that you had the time with your former colleague to offset the sadness of the day and of the past while.

    Sometimes I meet up with someone I didn't know well from the past and - surprise - life has aged us into people who connect. It's strange but nice.

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  3. When our loved ones pass, we will always have a heartache no matter how much time goes by, but our good memories will always stay in our heart.

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  4. You and your brother are lucky to have the family you do and to have each other---a gift from your wonderful mom and dad...I tire of myself as well and often wonder what on earth is left for me to do or write...and then something, whether trivial or wonderful, happens, and the muse comes alive once more...I have decided that I live in the "out-of-sorts" feeling you describe so well. I do not know why but it seems I have been waiting not to be so and that perhaps I should stop waiting and simply let it all be. Happy Saturday.

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  5. Our father's share a birthday. I love that. And you.

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  6. I think that's an excellent idea! Why not? Journalists, writers and photographers DO have completely mobile careers.

    I have friends like that too -- people I don't feel close to until after the fact. Funny how that happens.

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