September is here. Crystal clear days, cool mornings, coleus, mums and pumpkins are appearing at stores and on porches and doorsteps. The beautiful beginning of fall brings with it the pain of September 20, 2005. No, it isn't the gaping, black pit of physical, mental, emotional horror as it was in those first weeks after my brother died, but life has not, will not, ever be the same. Each Thanksgiving, Christmas, birthday, wedding reminds me that our family picture will always have a hole in it.
My brother Sidney got married in July. A beautiful day filled with beautiful people sharing love and laughter and commitment. But when I look at the photo, the bittersweetness overwhelms. How much more precious are these days when we are together? How I wish there were six of us in the photos, instead of five.
I think I find it easy to relate to Mom. Her pain resonates with me because I am a mother too. In many ways, I've thought the loss was probably harder for my dad. He's a fixer (like me). He's always been able to solve problems. To support us financially, emotionally, and academically. Dealing with his own pain and watching helplessly while the rest of us suffered was brutal for him.
I don't talk about him often enough. I saw him briefly yesterday and I was overwhelmed by how much I love this man. By how his slightly quirky personality, his funny walk, his inability to pronounce the word camel or flustered (he says flustrated) has kept us in stitches. My dad wears white socks with anything. Doesn't wear shorts. Is
almost 71 and could work circles around someone half his age. Would
rather be in his shop than anywhere in the world. Lined up a job at ACE
hardware BEFORE he retired, so never really retired. Never met a
pickle he didn't like. Spells the word "enter" as "inter" (because you
are going IN! HELLO!) Complains about the TV but loves the History
Channel. Thinks everyone understands incline planes, pulleys, velocity
and all things Physics because he does. Can't get his hair (what's left of it anyway) to lay down
flat for anything. Couldn't manage to look suave with the entire GQ style team in his corner. Doesn't email, facebook, text or tweet and won't read this unless it is printed out in 20 point font on a sheet of paper... and he is STILL too cool for school.
A few years ago I was driving him somewhere, I forget why or where, but he said something that shocked me. He said: "I wish we could have given you children more." It was a moment when everything sharpens and clarity comes in an instant. The proverbial pole falling on the head. Could I, my siblings, be anymore lucky? My parents HAD given us more! So much more than most kids who "have" more.
No we didn't have a lot of money. I'm not sure how much or how little. My parents told us there were things they couldn't afford and there were no new cars, Members Only jackets, Swatches and the like in the budget and when I was very small my dad worked three jobs to make ends meet... but they never said things that would scare us. I know we did things together: yard work, church, meals, camping, kitchen duty. I know my parents did us a favor by telling us "no" when it would have been easier to say "yes". That they were there, are there and will be there for us always. No matter what. What a gift to have that kind of security, as both a child and as an adult. It is why Mama and Daddy, Christie and Sidney are HOME to me now... no matter where we are, we are at peace when we are together.
So thanks Daddy, for giving us everything that matters.
3 days ago