Monday, August 4, 2014

Finding Dad in the sky, and the world stops spinning

Our dad's here. We just need to know where to look                                     

Not all that long ago, my sister Susan told me she sees our dad in the sky. I knew exactly what she meant. The moment he died, that's where I looked to know he was gone. And during these 750 days or since,  I seek him out above this earth, too -- nestled inside and between the stripes and plaids and polka dots of clouds; in the brightest star and in the one I have to look slightly away from to see. I track him down in the variegated gray of an almost-solid sky, in the blue of a clear one, in the orange of a sunrise and its blood-red twin at the end of the day.

My dad loved the sky -- its moon, its constellations; how lightning shattered its stillness. He was enamored of fluffy white clouds; mesmerized by the more portentous ones that signaled the approach of storms and (if his wish was granted) tornado warnings.

"The weather," he'd tell us when he knew we were scared, "is always changing."

It was, I think, his way of telling us that the world keeps moving, too, Last July 23, the realization he had been gone for a year jostled us into the acute reality that time really does pass. Now, 365 days later, the calendar pages have turned again, fluttering past round two of birthdays and holidays; past countless clouds and a dozen full moons.

One spring morning, while running under a clear sky the color of my dad's eyes, a pale white streak I hadn't seen five minutes earlier appeared over my head.  Maybe it was a cloud, or maybe the visible swoosh from a plane I hadn't seen flying overhead. It didn’t mar the clearness of the sky; not at all. Instead, I looked at it as a divider sorts, mysterious and mesmerizing, separating the earth under my feet and the ethereal mystery too high above me to grasp. Well into another season, I still take comfort in that, though really can't quite say why.

Even so, when I think about my dad dying (the reality of which, quite honestly, can still astound me and break my heart all over again), I often feel as if I'm on a swivel chair. Spun one way, Daddy's here. Whirled the other; he's gone. 

Sometimes I give it a spin, and when it stops, I feel slightly dizzy and have to put my feet on the ground to steady myself. And while I may not be sure where I am, I know enough to look to the sky. Because there -- between the clouds, behind a star, directly into the sun -- is where I can always find my dad.

And now we are six...but truly, we'll always be seven.

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