Tuesday, January 13, 2004


For another thirteen minutes, it is still January 13th.

I have just gotten off the phone with my mother. The weather is so brisk and cold outside that it feels almost illegal. I can't help but think that today I am more susceptible to the chill, more vulnerable because of the looming eerieness of the day. Today is January 13th (for another twelve minutes), the day my father passed away.

It was exactly three hundred and sixty five days ago. I can't believe that the days have passed so quickly. I can't believe that they left me without my permission. Yet how nothing has changed.

My mother sounds tired. I feel guilty for not being there in person. She comforts me by telling me that my sister is sleeping over. How does that make me feel, I wonder. Do I feel bad for not being that person sleeping over? Or do I feel bad because it makes me look bad?

The wind howls outside like a cliche out of a mystery movie. I ask her if she is keeping warm.

I am, she says. But I consider for a moment how much warmer it could be in her house. Then I feel like the person who is in love and associates every song with the object of his or her affection. I am doing the same only except with statements. Each phrase, sentiment or word has a deeper significance. And the ones not said aloud, the sighs and pauses, have even more.

Six minutes left of January 13th.

Last night, I had a drink with a good friend, someone who I admire and respect. Someone who has been in a similar predicament, like mine. Suffering, tragedy, healing and finding strength. She said something yesterday that I have been thinking about a great deal.

"You're holding back," she said. "I don't read much of your writing about your dad because I just don't think it's everything you have to say. And that feels not real."

[I went to my mother's school today to surprise her with flowers. I felt it was the least I could do.]

"Whaddya' mean?" I asked this friend. Because I truly didn't understand what she meant.

"Well, you write out of urgency, right? I'm not sure if it feels urgent." (Forgive me for paraphrasing her)

I'm not sure if that's the case, I wish I had said back. Moreover, I should have responded by saying, I don't write necessarily as an outlet (while that is also the case) but I truly write as a connector. I feel like this is my way of remembering him, bringing him for a few fleeting minutes back into my life. Like a seance, or like a sculptor creating something beautiful but instead of using clay and dirt, from thoughts and words. This is me consciously thinking about Dad. I am making it an active process, as opposed to a fleeting thought.

"Can you believe it's a year later," my mother asks me. And truthfully, I can't. I can't grasp that reality. And now that I look at the clock on my night table, I see it's now more than a year. January 13th has come and gone. I am now in the second year. Another year without. Next to the clock is a picture of my father. Sometimes I look at it and sometimes, I'm certain, it looks at me.

"No, I can't believe it," I say back. I am conflicted. While I want her to discuss how she's feeling, I also want to discuss other things and avoid the depressing topic. "You know...that night...in one way, it feels like yesterday but in another way, it feels like almost years ago." I can't think of anything more eloquent to say. But my mother gets it. When you share an experience of this nature, you understand ambiguous phrases like that.

We talk for a few more minutes. It is late. Both she and I are tired.

"How do you feel about today?" Another friend asked hours before.

"I don't know," I said back. "You know, for a lack of a better analogy, it's like a birthday. It's just another day. People tell you there is a significance to that specific day but it really feels just like the day before."

I tell my mother that I will be up for a while longer if she feels the need to call me before she goes to sleep. I tell her that whatever she needs...she should not hesitate.

She has not yet called. And I am assuming she won't.


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