Why is it that when I think of my dad, all I can think of is his death? I remember entering his apartment, like a scene of a murder, but there was no murder - unless you count years of forced psychiatric drugging murder, which it is. I remember the smell of death all around and a puddle of blood dried to almost black on his bedroom floor, in the spot where he died.
My aunt gave me his leftover unused pack of paper towels, and when I investigated them upon returning home, the smell of death had penetrated even those, deep into the fibers of those towels, and I screamed hysterically for my then-husband to throw them out.
I don’t want to think of these things when I think of my father. Though he did not raise me, and I didn’t really get to know him until adulthood, I want to think of his kind and gentle nature, his love of computers before anyone was even into computers, I want to think of how he used to call me “his darling left-wing daughter.” And all the fun little emails he would send me every day, just to let me know he was thinking of me. I want to think of him holding Sami as a baby, the proudest grandpa alive. Sami was seven months old when my dad died. He will never remember him.
Ah…if I went to therapy, I might talk about how perhaps my issues with men stem from not having my father around when I was growing up. His absence - perhaps the reason I fall for unavailable men - the more unavailable, the harder I fall. But I don’t go to therapy.
Today I tended to my garden. I bought a new rosemary plant, and a lavender plant, and scooped them into terracotta pots with fresh, damp earth. I remember someone telling me once that lavender is good for dealing with childhood wounds. Now I will have it growing wild and strong in my garden.
Obsessive thoughts will not stop swirling through my head - this pain of lost lovers, a lost father, my ex-husband having a baby with his new wife. Sami was not himself all day - quiet, lethargic, and listless, and I got lost in worry about that. “Can you give me a smile?” I asked him, as we climbed the stairs, and he turned around and gave me the slightest little smile - that was all he could muster.
By the afternoon, he seemed much better, even playing his favorite, quite energetic “hide under the covers” game. Seeing that he seemed back to his usual self, I tried to be brave and suck it up and go to that Father’s Day picnic to meet my single dad friend. I shaved my legs and tried to make my crazed, unkempt self look somewhat presentable.
But by the time we got there, Sami’s fever had spiked yet again, so I turned immediately around and took him to the urgent care. Two hours later, we had a diagnosis of strep, which I already feared by the foulness of his little breath.
I will have to keep him home from school tomorrow, I fear. Miss a day of work during a very important proposal-writing week, with deadlines looming large and intense. I think, if I had a partner, this would not be an issue. Perhaps my partner would help care for Sami while I got some work done. But in this situation, I am on my own. Don’t get me wrong, there is no resentment at caring for my sick baby boy. It is more the helplessness that I am only one person - my resources are limited. And I cannot, as much as I’d like to, be a superhero. If I care for my child, work suffers. If I work, my child does not get my attention. There is no one else to buffer between the worlds I must navigate.
I feel crazy, crazed, lost in memories of bloodstains on the carpet -my dear dad, dead. Too much pain to bear, so I move in other directions.
I am lost in memories of lovers lost, lost in obsessive thoughts of how happy they must be with their new partners. Sami’s father spent Father’s Day on vacation with his pregnant wife. I feel very dispensable, not very precious, more than a little flawed and defective. Why am I alone?
I hate this. I know that there is no good to come from resisting this. Yet I do, stubbornly, foolishly.
I want someone to slap me across the face like Cher in Moonstruck and say, “snap out of it!”
Tonight I sit with the crazies. I will put fresh sheets on my bed and cry into them, cry from all these men who have hurt me so much with their dying and leaving. And tomorrow I hope, I will awaken to face another day, staying strong, always, for the little man who means more to me than anything in this world, and always will.
Welcome to this blog - my chronicle of the illuminating, character-building path of single parenthood. I'm making this up as I go along. My life is my practice, and my five year-old son is my greatest teacher.