Friday, April 13, 2007

Boulders and Grains

The process of grieving the loss of a loved one is particular to the individual. Even before he died, I cried in anticipation of losing my dad (psychologists call such grieving anticipatory grief). And I cried in the arms of my cousin as the mortuary people carried away his cold emaciated corpse. Those were the boulders, tumbling out in an avalanche of overarching pain and obvious loss.

Yesterday I was looking through my collection of DVDs for a movie to watch. I chanced upon Ray, the biography of Ray Charles, the 20th Century musical giant. It’s a wonderful movie.

After several weeks of cajoling, I managed to get my skeptical dad to a theater to see Ray. He was sure it wouldn’t do justice to one of his musical heroes. My efforts paid off: He loved it! He watched it again on TV a few months later when it ran on HBO and even rented the movie from a video store at least twice more after that. He told me he would never get tired of seeing it.

A few weeks before he died, I chanced upon a copy of the Ray DVD on sale for $10. I grabbed it specifically to show it to my dad. I had recently purchased a large flat screen television with a very nice sound system and looked forward to having my parents over for dinner and playing the DVD for him. Alas, he died before I ever had the chance. For now the movie remains on the shelf.

I will watch Ray eventually. But when I saw the movie yesterday during my search, a twinge of pain ran through my whole body. I didn’t cry though I grew a little bit sadder. That’s how it is now. Every day, sometimes several times in a day, I see, hear or think about something I want to share with my dad. But I can’t any longer. Each is a little grain of loss that accumulates in my soul, weighing me down a bit. And I realize a bit more just how deeply and richly my and my father’s lives intertwined.

None of the grains is significant enough to merit grief on its own, but their impact is in the aggregate. Eventually, their increasing combined weight crushes me and I am overwhelmed, releasing the load and recommencing the process. I expect their accumulations to continue for a very long time.

I miss you Dad!

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