I know that once I showed you this place, I'd often check my sitemeter for the clicks that were yours. Did you know it was possible to miss an I.P. address? I'm sure you didn't and if I'd told you that, you would have shook your head and said something like, "I don't get kids anymore", even though I'm not a kid and haven't been for some time now.
It's this time of year when I think a lot about being a kid, which of course makes me think about you and Gram. About magic. About mystery. About faith and belief and about what now remains.
The Tigers continue to walk to the edge and collapse, so there is that constant. I couldn't watch them, you know, after you were gone. I want to instill the passion for baseball and sports into my kids, but that year was too much.
Like when you've left the water on a brisk day, and when you were in it, you were fine, but once out--the challenge of going back in seems crazy, dangerous even. You could get hypothermia in there. You could get a cramp and be unable to make it to shore. You could begin to weep and be unable to stop. So you don't go back in.
That's probably why, I think, I haven't been to your grave. It's hard to write that here, for I'm sure the first reaction of those that read it is my reaction within myself: selfish. No time to even go there and visit your grandfather's grave? I think you wouldn't think that, because of the things that I hope but do not know for sure, is that you hear each time I think of you and understand that I am visiting you in those moments.
A baseball game, blue skies, an orange push-up, a dirt road, a work truck, a piece of wood, a bad play during a game where someone wasn't "using their head", Silent Night, Amazing Grace, blue eyes, laughter.
I wish I'd recorded the sound of your laughter. I wish I'd recorded your singing. Big A asked me not to laugh before we went into a basketball game where she wanted to make a good impression. I'm not sure if the tears that stung my eyes were because it hurt me, or because I thought of you.
My dogs left, not long after you. You were right; they were like kids; they had souls; I won't be able to think of them and not feel like there is a rock in my heart. I remember our trips in the work trucks, the animals we picked up and saved, the cats you fed and sheltered. I've begun leaving cat food out at night for the strays out here. There are three that come now. They look in at me and I look back at them and I hope they trust me. (I really hope they trust me because my vet has agreed to spay them once I lure them into a cage.) I like being the place where the most innocent of souls know they can find a bit of food and some shelter. I know you know what I mean.
Big A is the athlete that we'd suspected she'd be. More so, than I'd thought. She doesn't have the patience to listen when I try to explain the logic, the thinking behind the plays; she doesn't want to hear it from me. I wish you were here to tell her. I know she wishes that, too. She's grown, nearly as tall as me. She's bright, brighter than me. She's harder around the edges and she doesn't like to show emotions and that's difficult for me and more so for her, I suspect.
Little A is growing and has a soul that is thousands of years old. She knows things she shouldn't possibly know, says things beyond her years; beyond the years of many. She crosses her fingers one over the other, picks at parts of herself until she bleeds, smiles fake smiles to cover fear, has to stand to do her work and doesn't like bright lights, loud noises, new people or new things, but she fiercely loves what she loves and when she feels safe she is the most alive and funny person I've ever met. I'm terrified of people crushing her. Terrified. She remembers you, which most would think odd, but not me. She recalls the last time you two shared a meal before Christmas. She remembers the bench you sat on. She remembers your plate and your discussion of what good food is. She says, "I remembers his voice, ma." And her blue eyes cloud over when we talk of you in Heaven now, but then she will say that she knows that Smoosh and Jessie are with you and I believe her.
Gram is a lifetime older. It breaks me each time I see her, which isn't enough. Her voice is distant and her letters are sad and it makes me remember the day as a child that Dzia-Dzia and I were swinging on that green swing in the gardens and he said that if he could have anything, he would leave the world with Busi at the same time. I didn't understand it then. I do now. Gram swears that she hears you and feels you; I believe that she does. I believe that we all do.
This month is hard for most anyone, I think. It was hard on Thursday when I finally sat down that night and looked at what the date on the calendar actually was. Your birthday. I choked back a sob. I keep waiting for the grief to not be so sudden and violent, but it still is most times when it sneaks up on me.
I'm blessed, I know. My life is good; I am doing a job that I love, my children are well, I have many wonderful friends. I feel like I should be happier, but I don't know how; I don't think that the idea of happiness that I have will come back again. Pure happiness, in my heart, is a girl with her head stuck out the window of a truck, grinning from ear to ear, remnants of an orange push-up getting glued to her face, the Tigers on the radio. I'm trying to create that girl for my girls; I think that is the only way and I wish that you were here to tell me I were right or that I think too much.
I love you still and miss you madly.