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 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.
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.