After dropping off the little boy at school this morning, I took a brisk walk around the campus and through the adjacent park.
I probably needed to walk the loop more than once, but even that fleeting twelve minutes worked wonders on my foggy brain.
This has been a strange week.
My uncle’s passing and the daily updates from mom about the flowers and the neighbors with food and the service and the other little details that you can’t predict until you’re dealing with them, all of that is spinning in my head and kicking old memories right to the front of my thoughts.
I remember all of this from the week after my dad died.
It’s good to have those things to keep you occupied until you can settle into the fact that your loved one is gone.
It takes a while to do that, you know, to settle into it.
It takes a while to stop reaching for the phone to call him.
It takes a while before you stop rushing home to tell him about your day.
It takes a while before you think of where to put the thoughts and feelings you kept just for him.
It takes a while to like the holidays again.
It takes a while before you stop buying him trinkets or bringing home magazines with articles on the things he collects or the places he goes.
It takes a while before you stop getting an extra slice of cake or a few more oranges at the market.
It takes a while before you stop regretting this day or that day.
It takes a while to forgive yourself for fights and failings.
It takes a while before you can clean out his stuff and actually decide what to do with it.
It takes a while to remember all of the people who would want to know that he is gone.
It takes a while to recover when you stand alone in your house with the phone in your hand and you realize you have told everyone there is to tell and now you must face a conversation with yourself.
It takes a while to really cry and to feel the way you really feel – mad or sad or relieved or sick or lonely or not. Happy or stressed or scared or buoyant.
It takes a while to decide where you think your loved one is and whether or not he sees you and knows you as this new person that you’re taking a while to become.
It takes a while to rearrange your life and to realize how you rearranged it for him before he left.
It takes a while to settle into it.
For me, it has been a long time. Eight years.
Today, I finally stowed away some of the Christmas decorations.
In the space I made for them in my closet, I found a box with some papers in my father’s humored, unhurried, and purposeful hand.
I will keep the box, of course, and I will frame some of the papers one day.
But it could take a while.
This week reminds me that I am still unsettled.
P.S. I threw some tomato seeds into the yard a couple of weeks ago. Can you see the sprouts in that photo? They are teeny next to the fully established ornamental strawberry leaves, but they are thriving. I can’t wait for this year’s crop to show itself.
And speaking of delicious produce, the strawberry patch at Main and Third is open for the season again. Go get yourself a flat. It’s worth the drive.