21 June, 2015

What We're Left With

I have my dad's turntable, I have his records. I have his guitar, a white Fender Stratocaster that he would let me play on special occasions. It was his guitar of choice onstage and there are many days where I still don't feel worthy enough to play on it, like I'm desecrating it with my clumsy fingers, my sadly muted f sharp. 


I remember sitting in his studio while he played, strumming alongside him with a beater guitar, my first, as he played the solos to new medleys he was working on: Chicago, the Beatles, the Eagles. There are days when I try to play along with James Taylor because that always reminds me of growing up in the Berkshires with him, guitars in the background, playing around a bonfire or watching him play at a concert on the lake. I usually pick something slow and bluesy, something I don't have to think about while I'm playing.

I had the dream the other night, the same one I can't seem to shake. He was in it, and so were all these faces I didn't know. We were running through a street, not from something, not to something, just running. In real life, he was not a runner. But dream him strides along effortlessly. He doesn't look like himself, but I still know it's him in the way he talks, the way we interact, how it feels to be in his company. He keeps trying to say something to me, but I'm not listening to him, or to anything really, just staring ahead, just running. Sometimes I pretend that the whole dream has some deeper meaning, that if I only think about it enough and push through, I will unlock some great epiphany. But I know it's just a dream, my brain's sophomoric attempt to create something interesting with faux metaphors and pretentious allusions while it whiles away the hours, unable to keep my eyes open, unable to shut my brain off.

I wanted to make this a happy post. I wanted to find the humor in the darkness and to tell you funny stories that will make you forget about life for a minute or two. You know, the reason why I created this blog. That's what I wanted for you, that's what I wanted for me. I really did want to, but I just don't know how today.

Because most days, lately, the sun shines too early through the window and falls on the clothes in the corner and the stack of sympathy cards on the table. Most days, it's hard to ignore the kind gestures and echoed platitudes that remind me he's gone. 'He's moved on to a better place.' The pictures from his funeral. 'He had a good life.' The Fender on the bed. 'He's not suffering anymore.' The guitar picks on the dresser. 'He was a good man.' The books he didn't read, and the letter he wrote me before he passed, in his curly scratch of handwriting. He wanted me to read it in front of him. "I'm so proud of the person you've become." You can barely make out the word "person." I usually can't get through it all.

In the end what we're left with, if we're lucky, is a pile of the happy times. Letters, scribbled notes on paper napkins, worn-through flannels, stories shared between sisters, unearthed pictures from before he got sick, two broken fishing rods that we had every intention of fixing. A guitar, some records, and a turn table. 

It's only been a couple months. It'll get easier, people keep reminding me. And I believe in my heart that it will. But it doesn't feel that way today. So instead, I'll take out that guitar and play along, poorly, to some 70s tunes. Maybe even try to read the letter again. (Maybe not.) Maybe try to write something funny again, one day soon. He would like that.

Happy father's day, dad. (I miss you.)