Fathers

It’s been a busy weekend. We had Terri and Ezra over for dinner and Showgirls Friday evening, which they may never forgive us for. We celebrated Teresa’s birthday Saturday at a sumptuous fiesta thrown by Donna, and we met some really bright and lovely people. I sipped an ingenious new drink, the Stormito: a Dark and Stormy tempered with a bit of lime and a lashing of fresh mint.

Today was the difficult day: we attended the wake for Kevin’s father. I felt like a nervous fish out of water during a formal Catholic service component that I hadn’t expected, but when I held Kevin and Tomoko, I knew it was right that we were there. I guess if you can’t do a damned thing to prevent or alleviate the horror they’ve been through, pressing your heart against theirs is what you do, all you can do. I almost (almost) wished I could absorb how terrible they felt and will feel the next days, weeks, and months. I’m an old pro and they don’t deserve to experience this grief after such a horrifying cancer year.

I think I faked my way through the ceremony okay. The open casket didn’t upset me, since as a child and young teenager I attended the viewings and funerals for my great-grandmother, my great aunt, three of my grandparents, my far-too-young aunt, and my mom’s nephew killed in a freak accident — all before the age of 16. My brother and I got to know one funeral home in Indianapolis all too well; I remember the funeral director asking if we’d like to look at some “funny books” (a term we found peculiar), and my mom giving us some money to go to the Dunkin Donuts down the street for a little while, to escape the cloud of grief and relatives we’d only met as infants but who seemed to know us intimately.

One theme from the service during the wake was that we should feel reassured by the comforting idea that one’s loved one was joyously nestled in God’s embrace. That’s a sweet thought, but I think that would bore my father to tears. I’d rather conjure an afterlife where he has a lot of projects lined up: things to build, clocks to craft, gardens to design and tend to abundance, engines to take apart and reconstruct in a more efficient configurations, dishes to delight and nourish the people he loves. As improbable as it must be, I want him to be holding our dog sitting straight up on his knee. I want him to be able to move about without pain.



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