Wanting To Go Backwards, Needing To Go Forwards

Family
Surrounded By Family

I learned something last week.  For the past nine months I’ve been trying to go backwards.

I’ve been trying to imagine my Dad back to life.

Impossible.  And I have caused myself all sorts of pain because of this desperate need to go backwards in my life and in my Dad’s life.

There are many things I can do backwards.  Spelling.  Counting.  Swimming.  Skating.  Skipping rope.  Dancing.  Walking and even kind-of-slow-running.  But I cannot get life to move backwards.  Not going to happen.

I need to grieve forwards.  Sounds funny, I know.  It actually makes me laugh when I say this to myself.  Laughter feels like grieving forwards.

Realizing what I’ve been doing makes a difference in how I feel.  Something has eased within me.  I’m not going forward, but at least the backward pull has stopped, and that is an improvement.

Yes, Dad, I was trying to head in the wrong direction, backwards.  A mistake made out of a long love, and an unwillingness to stop seeing you here in front of me.

Dad does not want me sad.  He loves me too much for that.  I can feel him gently putting his hands on my shoulders and turning me around, so now he stands behind me and my life stands before me.

I don’t want to do this.  I am crying, but I feel Dad behind me and there is strength in that feeling.  Love, and a kind of steadiness I had lost.  He has my back, and I can make the first tentative steps forward again.  He won’t let me fall.

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In this post:

The excellent, imaginative book I was reading last week, that sparked my aha, is Lost & Found by Brooke Davis, Penguin Canada Books, 2016.  I love the three main characters, a seven-year-old girl and two seniors who create themselves as family, take a road trip to find the girl’s mother (who has left her behind), and emphatically refuse to be anyone other than who they are.  I keep thinking about them.  I want them to be happy.  Thanks, Brooke, for writing this.    https://www.facebook.com/brookedavisauthor

Brooke also wrote an article, very much worth reading, about her experience of grieving.  A shortened version is included at the end of the book, and the full version is at www.textjournal.com.au/oct12/davis.htm

Threads of Joy (Upsy-Daisy Part Two)

letmemendheart
Let Me Mend Your Broken Heart

I learned to sew in High School, Grade Eight.

The first thing I learned was the basting stitch, an easy up and down of needle and thread through two layers of sky blue gingham cloth that would eventually become an apron.

The basting stitch was simple.  All it required was attention to keeping the stitches balanced in length so the layers of cloth held firmly to each other.  The thread I used was a vivid red, deliberate contrast to the colour of the gingham.  It was easy to see what had already been stitched, and what now needed my needle, thread, and attentive eyes.

I am thinking of my Dad, and how he taught me to find threads of joy and use them to stitch my days together.

It was my heart and all my senses he taught me to use, rather than needle and thread.

Every day, as I grew up, I stitched firm the colours of morning clouds and wild sunsets.

Every summer I stitched the feel of my bare feet on wet sand as the tide went out.  I stitched the smell of thick earth under the trees when August afternoons were hottest and I found the deepest shade.

I stitched into my life the smooth, cold taste of chocolate ice cream for dessert after supper.  Two round scoops each for me and my sister, one scoop for our brother who was much younger than us and still sat in the high chair next to Mom.

Every night I stitched the quiet sounds of my Mom and Dad talking in the kitchen after we three were in bed, stories read, blankets and teddy bears tucked around us, kisses on our cheeks.

Here in my life now, I stitch each day together against the grey grief that threatens to pull me apart.  I stitch, with careful attention, the threads of joy my Dad taught me to find and choose.  Vivid colours, lengths of joy and love sewn to balance sadness, to hold me firm.