Friday, January 1, 2021

Letting 2020 Go

I haven't been here for quite a while. 

Frankly, I just haven't felt like putting up a new blog post for most of the past six months. And, while I don't really know that anyone who reads my blog on a regular basis really wants an explanation (or needs one at this point), I feel like I need to write one out for myself. 

In July, my dad died. He'd had a lot of medical issues over the years, but - honestly - his death was still sudden and unexpected. From the time he went into the hospital to the time he was gone was just barely long enough for my sisters and me to make the trip to my hometown to say good-bye. Oddly enough, that was one blessing of the pandemic - the fact that no one was flying in July, so that my sisters could book last-minute direct flights without breaking the bank. 

It wasn't related to COVID-19. (I guess that, for deaths in 2020 and 2021, that will always be a question.)

The funeral home wanted to know when we would want to have a service, and the decision was "sometime after everyone can travel safely" - we're still not sure when that will be. 

I've been told by people who would know that the first year is the worst, because you're having all of your "first XX without..." situations. And we've definitely had those. I've had my first visit back to my hometown without him there in the house with my mom. We've had our first Thanksgiving and our first Christmas. 

But we've also had our first random Wednesday. Our first "I've got a sore throat, what do I take?" (Dad was a pharmacist so he was always our first call in medical situations.) Our first trip to Trader Joe's without buying those ginger cookies he liked to take home to him. 

For me, it's exactly like when the Narrator in "Our Town" explained to Emily that she should choose to revisit an ordinary day, because even that holds too much emotion for the heart to bear. 

And, as of today, we have the first calendar year that he won't be in. As of midnight, his death is now "last year" - a marker in the past. 

I know that a lot of other things happened in 2020. A lot of things people wish hadn't happened, and a lot of things that we, as a society, should never forget. And I know that we're not the only family that dealt with losing a loved one. It was 12 months of the world going on. And there were probably just as many good things as bad - weddings and births and beautiful sunrises and dances in the kitchen. 

But, for me, the beginning of July changed everything. And I have been dreading the change of the calendar and having to say that it happened last year. Because the memories will always be immediate and I will always want to make one more phonecall, one more visit, one more drive down that road because we haven't gone down it in a while. 

A new year is just a date on a calendar. Life goes on. It's persistent. And so does memory. And there will always be new firsts. They just won't ever be quite the same. 


Because it kind of seems appropriate, here is a link to Dad's obituary