Tomorrow at this time I'll be on a plane to California, going home for my dad's memorial service. Last time I flew home hoping to see him, but this time I know he isn't there.
Except that he is always with me now, and I carry him in my heart. But you know what I mean: I will open the door, and he won't be sitting in his beloved chair. He won't get up to give me a hug. He won't drag in my enormous suitcase [a low-maintenance traveler I am not; just ask Brunie: I bring a trunk, she packs everything she needs in a Highlights for Children backpack] while I protest, "Dad! Save your back! I'm young and spry, let me do it!" He won't listen to the story of my trip home [something always happens to me] and guffaw at the absurd parts. [In March, Hertz wouldn't let me rent a car because according to their records, I was 110 years old. "But," said the desk clerk, eying me, "We know that's not true . . . right?" Yeah, I'm very well preserved, lady. Must be all the hooch.] I have had all of these experiences a hundred times, and I will never have them again.
The morning after he died, I got up early and headed to the kitchen to make coffee — and it hit me: When have I ever made coffee in my parents' house and not brought a cup to Dad? (Answer: Never.) And there I was, bawling over the coffeemaker.
There will be little whammys like this all week long, I expect.
I wanted to write a post about the awesomeness of my friends and just how wonderfully kind everyone has been, but I find myself overwhelmed by the hugeness of the topic. Suffice it to say: My friends are awesome. I hear from several of you each day, from all corners of my world. You've been feeding me, offering treats, nourishing my soul. You've written beautiful things, you've shared music with me, you've somehow known exactly what I needed. My dad would be so happy to know that I'm being taken care of.
My dearest old friends Lady Darcy and J are coming to the memorial service, and I can't wait to see them. Dad enjoyed all my girlfriends, and he was at each of their weddings. It will be so great to have old friends there, especially if I need a respite from all family, all the time.
(Both brothers plus wives plus me plus Mom are staying at our parents' house, and I have this feeling that it might get a little . . . intense. But I'm keeping an open mind, also a song in my heart and a skip in my step on the sunny side of the street! Ha.)
The first person speaking at the service is me, which is a daunting responsibility. Here's what I've planned for my opening words:
The poet Mary Oliver once wrote:
To live in this world
you must be able
to do three things:To love what is mortal
to hold it
against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;And when the time comes to let it go
to let it go.
Today we come together to honor and celebrate the life of Gerald Eugene Davis, my dad, who died very peacefully after a brief bout with cancer just one month ago.During this past month — and especially now, as I look out at all of you who loved my dad — I find myself reflecting on the words “I’m holding you in my heart.” I have said these words many times to people who have endured a loss, and now people are saying them to me. My friend Jane sent a card to me in Chico the weekend that Dad died, and she wrote, “I think that if you look outside, you’ll see a lot of us out there, standing vigil for you, your dad, and your mom,” and that is just what it feels like — like there’s a cushion or a blanket of love and care enveloping me and my mom and my brothers right now. And I want to thank all of you who are holding us in your hearts and giving us this experience of being held.
* * * *
I probably won't post from California, but I'll be back for America's birthday. Send traveling mercies my way, won't you? And please also keep a good thought for the little band of Chardonnays here in Massachusetts, who are also sad, who won't have a memorial service to bring them closure, and who will be missing Wife/Mama a lot next week.
— Lady C