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I’m up to my knees in dust and memories, carefully wading through a minefield of moving boxes. Twenty years. Twenty flipping years of my life were spent in this house. And now we’re moving. Well, mom is moving an ocean and half a country away – to Maine, as it were. I’ll be moving as well… location TBD. Don’t get me wrong, I’m actually quite excited. We’re both creating something new, and my gut knows the timing is right. It’s all just so bittersweet. I’ve never loved that word so much as I do now, because I’ve never quite understood it. Bitter. Sweet. Both in equal measure, both strong and fierce in my heart.
I found cards from people who attended my father’s funeral. Condolences. There were over 500 of them. As we move I find more and more clues as to who this man was. The cards are full of stories about his loving, generous, and compassionate character. I mean, I think the 500+ cards speak for themselves. He touched a lot of people. But I find hints of his humor in his music collection, his interests show in the books on his shelf, and his heart is revealed by the photos he kept in his wallet.
I find myself remembering more these days. It’s been almost ten years since my father died, and I’m finally beginning to remember.
On the day it happened, I only wanted to forget. So after all the well-wishers and family had left, after mom had put herself to bed, when our house was empty and silent again, I sat on our couch and willed myself to forget. I didn’t speak out loud, only in my head. My mind fiercely commanded my heart and soul to believe the following: “You never had a father. You never had a father. It has always been just you and mom. It’s always been just the two of you. You never had a father.” I sat there on that worn out couch and repeated that for a while. I don’t really understand the psychology of trauma, repression, and all that jazz. But I did something to myself that day. To cope, I had to adapt to a new reality, a reality without him. Forgetting seemed the best option.
Now, at twenty three, I am the proverbial young adult in search of herself: setting my course, seizing the horizon, making my own way, some other hallmark-type slogan. I moved home in search of grounding, and of course, grounding requires roots. The roots of my culture, of my mother, and yes, of my father. The father I wanted to forget and now so desperately want to remember. How can you move forward in life until you know how loved you are? How can I talk about the love of “father” God when I refuse to remember the one I had in flesh? I have deprived myself my greatest strength.
But no longer.