Thursday, September 4, 2008

September 3

Yesterday was the 5th anniversary of my dad's death. Impossible. 5 years?
And every September 3rd, including the one he died, has been an absolutely sunny, crisp, beautiful day.

Two nights ago, which would have been the 5th anniversary of the night before he died when we all sat gathered around his bed, I went for a run late in the evening, and as I headed out I realized it was going to get dark pretty fast. So I ran up to the high school track where there was a soccer game being played under the lights on the field above the track. So I ran for a while, and the game ended, and the players filed off the field, and the busses drove away. I kept running with this impending fright that the lights were going to go off any minute, and I'd be left in deep darkness.

I had a distance in mind, so I started running faster, knowing the lights could go out at any turn, and wondering if my eyes would adjust.

I kept thinking of this Emily Dickinson poem:

"We grow accustomed to the Dark—
When light is put away—
As when the Neighbor holds the Lamp
To witness her Goodbye—
...

The Bravest—grope a little—
And sometimes hit a Tree
Directly in the Forehead—
But as they learn to see—

Either the Darkness alters—
Or something in the sight
Adjusts itself to Midnight—
And Life steps almost straight."

Emily D. seems optimistic I'd find my way home, but man, was it going to be dark. I was determined to finish, ran faster and faster, and as I ran the final lap still thankfully under the lights and headed for the gate, I looked up to a totally abandoned field and parking lot. Everyone had been gone for almost 20 minutes. Why were the lights still on?

And then I spotted one man way on the other side of the field, leaning against the fence. He waited until I was safely up the hill to the parking lot, illuminated by street lights, and then he shut off the lights.

And the sudden absence of the previously unnoticeable buzz of the lights left a profound silence and darkness. My feet on the gravel and my breath and total darkness behind me. I put up my arm in a wave to the man. What a fatherly gesture, I thought, and ran home, missing my dad so damn much.

Speaking of poems and lights and soccer fields, here is a poem I wrote last year with my creative writing class about a dream I've had several times:

Replay for my dad

I look up from the soccer field into the lights
and see you there, a fan in the stands
with your khaki jacket and ruddy cheeks.

I keep my eyes locked on you. We make contact
and I mouth wait for me
as I file off the field behind my team.
In the locker room I stumble.

I get stuck. My legs are heavy and slow.
Cleats won’t come off. Coach trying to talk to me.
Can’t find my clothes. Wait for me.
I run, and trip, and gasp for you,
but I can’t find the door.

I wake before I get to the scene I want:
taking the bleachers two at a time
leaping for you, hugging your healthy, sturdy shoulders,
walking away from the field
pressed into your warm, breathing chest.

6 comments:

Baute Family said...

Em,
As I sit crying reading ..remembering your dad is precious to me. You were blessed enough to have one of the best fathers on Earth! I miss him too.... I miss his soft,gentle yet strong and reassuring voice. His smile and true heart for his family was so genuine. His warm and comforting arms to hug all around you was the best. He is definately missed !
We would have such great fun together as moms...I wish we could be side by side one another in this life, instead of 2500 miles apart.
P.S. I knew Skyler would have a fabulous first day....I mean look at her! She is so comfortable at being Syler, a beautiful little angel. You have done so great! I am so proud of you Emilie, you are an awesome mommy! xoxo

Meredith said...

My heart aches for you, reading this.

I'm thinking about resonance of those words, "wait for me," and I see your dad there, whooping for Skyler as she scores her first goal.

One day, when Skyler reads this post, she'll get a flicker of how it would have felt to have him cheering there, just for her.

Christine said...

Beautiful, Emilie. I'm always so touched by your writings about your father.

Tiercy said...

I think the previous comments say it all. I love your poem; it was so real to me. I know you will see him again one day...he is waiting for you.

The Pagleys said...

Em--I sometimes feel I have no right to miss your dad as much as I do, but still I do. And in some crazy way I am glad that we are all connected in big ways to September 3rd. The fact that two births (Noah's and Kyle's) and Uncle Klaus' death occurred on the same day so illusively demonstrates the yearning for life's seasons that I have for my children. I want my children to have a wonderful childhood full of bright colors and warm memories, I want them to have a young adult hood that teaches them who they are and establishes what they believe because they choose to believe them, and a mature adult hood where they experience the greatest of life's joys-getting married, having children of their own and watching them grow up, buying their dream house, finding a career that they love and an aged adulthood where they fall in love again with their spouse after the children leave, travel the world, and yes, I want them to experience death because to live forever is to live too long. (I do want death to be gentle and kind, however).
Your poem was amazing and I wish I had half the talent as you have. Thanks for sharing such intimacies with us. We love you for it!

Donna said...

Oh Emilie how proud your dear Father must be of the wonderful daughter he has in you. Your poem is amazing.

Thinking of you and your dear Father.