There are three words I want to hear: Happy Easter, Alison. I've heard them today though, so perhaps I should be more specific. I want to hear them in my father's voice.
I have been counseled by well-meaning and generous friends about the holidays and how they are different to experience for the first time after a loss. I thought I understood, but today I learned that I understood intellectually. I mean, of course the holidays are hard. That makes sense. But we don't have logical hearts.
This morning I awoke early, enjoyed a hot cup of coffee while reading the first few sections of the Sunday paper, and then pulled two eggs from the fridge and put them in a pan of water on the stove with the intention of having hard boil eggs for breakfast. But when I took them off the stove and began to peel them, to my surprise they were not hard-boiled, but soft. I like soft-boiled eggs, but couldn't help myself from thinking about my father liking them as well. And with that thought, I couldn't breathe. Okay, so I expect that. Emotional ambushes are going to crash through. But the tumbling began there. I was going to talk to plenty of people today: mother, brother, sister, niece, nephew, friends, and say, Happy Easter. But not so my father. And I suddenly felt that I'd taken a turn onto a familiar street, only to look around and see nothing I'd seen before. It felt like hearing a train in the distance, a dog barking in the distance, a child crying in the distance. Everything in the distance. It felt like being 500 miles away from my own heart.
I know that nothing ever remains the same, a time comes when we follow new paths, have new experiences. It's a full life I'm living and I know that when I was born, I could not walk or even focus my eyes. And I learned. And I learned because I was taught. All through life, we continue to grow and learn and develop our identities. And we learn because we are taught. And as we are taught, we learn to trust not only ourselves but also our teachers. We see ourselves connected to them and we see ourselves as part of a circle. My father was an integral part of my circle. He allowed me to be free to learn, free to achieve, free to live, and at the same time, accountable to the circle. But starting my day with soft-boiled eggs, and hearing and speaking Happy Easter, while familiar and pleasant, still has me arriving at the feeling that my circle has been broken. I find myself reaching for the hands that are not there. And my hand is left open and missing his. My heart is broken and missing his. I miss his mighty roar. I miss his gigantic tail. I miss my rascal, Puff. This is my new circle. I miss my old circle.