‘What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men …… That is what love looks like.’ - St. Augustine

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Easter Mourning

It's Easter, which for me consisted of a predawn awakening to hide Nastia's Easter basket, writing out all the clues, and placing them, carefully, in their appointed hiding places. Then the watching of her, gleefully hunting for it. Even though she's fourteen by this world's narrow standards, she is still so very much the little child.

She screeched with delight upon finding it, jumping up and down, and filling he face with an incomparable grin. She later snuggled up in her blankets and carefully categorized each item that Easter brought her ...candy, tiny gifts, a Russian egg. After eating a few of the eggs we had colored the previous day, I went back to bed for a nap. I'm not feeling so well lately. In the quiet of our room, with the sound of the tv blaring cartoons a few rooms away, I just lay there, thinking of my father. Easter sans family kinda sucks.

Childhood Easters always consisted of impressive family gatherings, with an endless parade of food and cousind. I'd sit with my grandmother, hunt for eggs in my uncle's giant backyard, watch my little cousin Boo count out all the pennies and quarters she collected from her plastic eggs (we always let her find the most). Some Easters were the scene of knock-down, drag-out fights between the same Irish-tempered relatives, including my Dad. They were scary, but somehow riveting to watch. We kids would freeze with fear and owe. Funny thing is, I miss those times, too.

I miss the smell of cigarettes and whiskey,being the errand girl and running drinks and plates piled high with ham and potatoes to my Nana, aunts and uncles. I felt safe amidst all the noise and chaos of those holidays. It was so much better than the silence up in my room.

I guess in some ways I feel like Nastia is missing out. Her life is a quieter life than mine was -- no siblings to battle, no all-night parties, no drop-by relatives and friends in and out of the house all day. She doesn't have brothers to harass or commiserate with. No rambling, creaky house filled with artifacts and heirlooms, squeaking doors, ghosts, and oh so many stories. She lives in a rented ranch. On a cookie-cutter street in suburbia. With her single mom. Most of her relatives live more than 1400 miles away. I wonder if she'll be different because of it.

I so mourn the loss of my father in her life. I can't get over it on some days. It feels so terribly unfair. Our family feels handicapped without him. It is like we are missing an arm or a leg, something necessary. The silence of his absence is not even bittersweet, it is simply bitter. I'm starting to realize that people who lose a loved one are handicapped for the rest of their lives. There is no going back to the whole person that you were - there is only coping, and on some days, if you're really lucky, living.

I felt understood and acknowledged by my Dad at such a deep level. I mattered, and I knew I mattered, in the deepest most fundamental corner of my soul. I don't matter anymore - that's how it feels, anyway. I matter to my daughter,yes, and that is wonderful and miraculous in its own way. But I miss mattering as a soul, and as my father's daughter.

Damn, I miss that.

I know my Dad is alive. Somewhere. I do. I can't say I know many details about his new life, but I know with great surety that he has one. But somehow, that is not enough. Sometimes it is - enough to know he is alive and happy, living out new adventures somewhere. But more often than not, his absence is too glaringly obvious. It's like a neon sign hanging in front of everything I do and see and feel. I hate it. I want him back. Now.

There is nothing good about death. I'd like to imagine there is, but today, on this grey and leaf-barren Easter Sunday, my heart knows that each death is simply having your heart ripped out over and over and over again, until you are numb from the pain of it.

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