Sunday, February 22, 2015

Back in the World

I have been out of the world for seventeen days. On February 5 a call from my brother led me to bolt out of work, speed across town, and arrive at my parents’ house after my father was already dead. They took him to the hospital, but we knew what was what.

Since then we made arrangements and buried the man. We have cared for my mother and I have arranged her finances. My wife and daughters have done without some of my attention. All of us have dealt with a bitter cold snap that has kept us indoors and led, in my case, to a kind of hiding. Each morning I’ve gotten up to write for half an hour alone, done a few things around the house and with my mother, but by two in the afternoon I have run out of steam. I have wandered until dinner then had a drink or two and gone to fitful sleep.

Most mornings I’ve told myself that it is the day to get back in the world. I plan to run, read a book, write a blog post, but then the cold air hits almost as hard as the absence of my father and I am out. I respond to a few emails and talk with a friend or two. My wife and I make dinner. We clean the kitchen. I hang with the kids before they go to bed. Eventually, I go to sleep and wake the next morning hoping it’s the day I get back in the world.

Today has warmed to thirty-five degrees, rising above freezing for the first time in weeks. Since he died it has been below zero and the wind has howled. I’ve cleared snow from the driveway and sidewalks and often come in crying not just out of grief but also because my fingers are screaming in pain. Tomorrow, for the first time since the fifth, I go back to the routine of teaching school. The forecast is for more snow and cold.

There is likely some wisdom to be drawn from the death of my father, our going on, and the awful cold, but so far I haven’t found it. Instead, there is quiet and the occasional longing. I felt both this afternoon at the final Syracuse Women’s Basketball home game. Dad and I had season tickets and I missed him this afternoon.

The team won, coming back in the second half from being down. After the game, a player took the mic and said, “I want to tell you to come to our next home game, but this is the end.”

The team has one more away game, the ACC tournament after that, the NCAA tournament to follow. I have work tomorrow and more things to settle with Mom. I’ll have the dishwasher, snowblower, and car serviced. My youngest daughter has dance all week, my oldest is building sets for the play. My wife returns to her work. We will make dinner each evening and clean up after. There will be times of quiet and longing and maybe wisdom too. For now there is simply the world and me back in it.