Thursday, June 24, 2010

Food and Grief

When I started this blog in January 2010, I envisioned that I would write once a week--on Sunday nights--and I would post witty things the kids had said that week and occasionally cute pictures of the backs of their heads with pithy comments about motherhood and our food revolution, and thus would chronicle in some way this magical and challenging journey that we are traveling together. I didn't know then what the next six months would bring, including a pretty devastating miscarriage and, now, this.

My father died unexpectedly on Tuesday, June 8th, 2010. Two weeks ago.

I say it was unexpected because he had a heart attack, although he has had numerous health issues over the past decade. I think I was "sort of" prepared for him to die in 2003 when I moved back home from D.C. when he was first diagnosed with cirrhosis and emphysema, but he seemed to stabilize himself, make better lifestyle choices, and he has been living on his own in an apartment community since then.

I am sure that I will have lots of Stuff to process and this might be a good forum for doing so in the next few weeks, if you readers will indulge me. My parents divorced when I was a toddler and my father and I had a complicated relationship. And since my brother died in college, I am his only issue which left me to make decisions about the funeral and burial and his apartment and dog and car and gun and VA benefits and cable cut-off and mail forwarding. I have said numerous times these two weeks that I keep looking around for the grownup who is in charge and everyone keeps looking back at me. When did that happen? One would think that having 3 kids and 2 houses and a dog (now 2 dogs) would make you feel like a grownup, but nope. Apparently, it doesn't actually happen until you lose a parent. And how does one actually grieve when you are on hold with the Social Security Office?

There is so much more I want to say. So much more. About my good memories of my 16th birthday and summers in Atlanta when Scott and and I were little. About Vietnam and the ghosts he carried with him all these years. About my confusion that he would make some of the choices he made and why. About my guilt at not having seen him in an entire year. About my gratefulness that our wonderful huge extended family showed up for his funeral to celebrate his life even as he isolated himself more and more these last few years. About my love for a man who was broken and limited, and yet had an enormous heart and sense of humor. About my unending love for my friends who came to the funeral, looked after my children, brought us food, sent cards and flowers and text messages, helped me clean out his apartment.

About my deep throbbing sadness. For what was. And what wasn't.

He was 63.

And if you ever wonder how we deserve the friends we have, we don't. I don't. But I am humbled and grateful and filled up by these folks--and many others--who came to the funeral on Friday

and to help me clean out his apartment a week later.

And so I write about food . . . and grief. I guess that is the very essence, no?

Ciao a tutti. Ciao papa'. Riposa in pace. Finalmente. Pace.