"Bring 'em all back to life." -- Feist, Graveyard
It seems odd to say "I'm thinking of my dad a lot lately" or "I miss my father so much right now" because am I not always thinking of him and missing him? Is he not part of every breath I breathe, every thought I think? He suffuses me and there's not one part of me that is not bound to him. But I go through times when he is more intensely on my mind, when the grief is more overwhelming and debilitating and that's what is happening right now.
I suspect every generation says "The time in which I live is full of turmoil and fear," but it seems more than accurate to say that the United States is currently in a state of upheaval and that the world is brimming with inhumanity, whether its police brutality on our streets or refugees trying to find peace and safety in Europe as they flee war-torn countries. Global warming is very real, communities are faced with having to leave their homes because of it and we will have to live with the consequences of what climate change is doing to the earth.
I watch the news but sometimes I question why when it's a constant stream of tragedy and catastrophe, but I don't think I could live with myself if I didn't learn about what was happening outside of my own life. Maybe it's because of my love for books, in which you are forced to take on the perspective of another person, but I value learning about other people, not just their struggles but also their complicated experiences in the world.
Still, I'm a very sensitive person and it's hard for me to hear stories of human suffering and let it go. I carry those stories with me and continue to think about them. Some of these stories hit close to home. Currently, in my small Southern town, several confederate flags fly on the sides of houses, conveying a terrible message of racism and hatred. This absolutely horrifies and disgusts me. I get indignant but, more than anything, I get overwhelmed. I feel hopeless. I see the suffering, but I have no idea what to do about it, except sign a few petitions and spread the word as much as I can. No matter what, I feel shaken by the things I see and read, by the way human life has been devalued in our country and in our world and how it seems that many people do not care.
What does this have to do with my father? Everything. He was the main person in my life who really listened to me. I would share with him all my thoughts and feelings about injustice. We often watched the news together. He was an open-minded and understanding person. I know that, were he alive today, he would be able to offer comfort to me when I am so undone by the world's tragedies. I miss talking to him. I miss our connection. I miss his goodness.
When the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina came up recently, I remembered how he was alive in 2005 when the storm hit. I remembered us watching the news and being horrified by the way people in New Orleans were left on their roofs and herded into the Super Dome, so many left to suffer with no help from our government. I also remembered my dad writing a check to the Red Cross even though, at the time, we were living on disability benefits and had very little money. He wanted to do something, to help in some way, and I admired him so much for that spirit of generosity.
I'm crying as I write this. This isn't just about the inhumanity of the world, this is also about the unshakable feeling inside me that I am lost in this world without him, that I can't really live and function without him. His loss magnifies all my emotions, it's the lens through which I see and feel everything. His death is what sensitized me to the suffering of other people. But, at the same time, ever since his death, life no longer makes sense. Everything is harder, scarier, darker without him. I can't find meaning or purpose. I can't find an anchor. He is gone. His soothing presence is gone and his words of comfort and his acts of love. I have the memories, yes, but they're not enough. I'm still alone. I'm still lost. I'm still hurting and grieving.