I don’t usually like to mark anniversaries of sad events, especially deaths because it is better to celebrate a person’s life than remember their exit. But today, on my way home from work I had a sudden need to listen to Pearl Jam’s Release. Since my marriage into the Jamily, this song has been one that really touched me and reminded me of my dad’s passing. As Eddie started toward the crescendo of the song, my thoughts went to the date. Was it December 4th? Yes, it had to be because I dated a letter today with the 4th. And as Eddie’s voice ached with “Oh dear dad/Can you see me now/I am myself/Like you somehow.” I ugly cried in my car because I realized it had been 13 years since my father left this world.
I don’t really recall December 4, 2000 well. It started sometime in the middle of the night when the hospital called to tell us my father had passed away. I did not want to go into his room and “say good bye” because I had a belief that if I saw my father’s body, it would erase all my memories of his life. I don’t believe I cried that night. We returned home in the early morning hours and my uncle who had been staying with us instructed us all to try and get some sleep. Honestly, most of the following days are a blur with brief snippets of remembrance of consoling hugs, gentle reminders to “eat something” and comments about how loved my father was.
I only remember the date now as a marker. My life changed after December 4, 2000. There is the life I had when my father was alive and there is the life that has happened since my father passed. After December 4, 2000, I moved to Los Angeles. I graduated from law school. I married my husband. I had my son, who is named after my dad. I would have loved to see how my dad would have been as a grandparent. I imagine he would have handled my son much as he talked to me as child, which was the same amount of respect he spoke to adults. Taking seriously my son’s concerns even if they involve concerns about volcanos in the middle of Los Angeles.
I think I am most sad that we never got to have a chance to know each other as adults. I was only 21 when he passed away; too young to see him as anything but my dad. Too young for him to see me as a grown woman. In the last 13 years my relationship with my mom has grown and matured. We talk about parenthood now and the issues with getting anything done with a toddler under foot. I would love to compare parenthood tales with my dad and get his thoughts on my work life as an attorney. It is his fault after all that I went to law school (“What’s the worst that can happen?” he said).
Though today I feel sadness. I also feel my dad watching over me and it was him tugging at me to listen to Release (even though I am pretty sure my dad didn’t know who Pearl Jam was) letting me know he is there if I need to talk to him. “Meet me on the other side”
Love you, Dad.