An hour or so after my dad died, I went on a walk in an attempt to breathe deep again. I shuffled the songs on my iphone. It may sound silly, but our shared favorite song came on first. The Eagles played “Seven Bridges Road” and I felt closer to him. I decided to take a daily walk with my dad. An affordable therapy session, a way to feel like I still have contact with him. If nothing else, the walk will be a way to burn the calories from the chocolate my hurting heart likes to eat.
It almost seems as if things have come full circle. I found out about my dad’s health on the beach…
”They found some tumors on my liver,” he said.
”Is it…is it cancer?”
”Well, if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s probably a duck.”
The sunset painted the sky with radiant colors, but I suddenly felt colorblind.
“I need to transfer my lease to a complex in Dallas. My dad has cancer,” I said to the apartment leasing specialist. The tears fell from my eyes and without bothering to wipe them away, “I’m sorry. It’s the first time I’ve said those words.”
Within two weeks, I had packed my belongings and moved back to Texas. Two years later, our daily walks will be on the beach where I now live in Venice.
Sunday, April 21, 2013 - 12:25p
It was overcast on my walk today. I like it when the weather matches my mood. No sun, but bright enough to still wear sunglasses. The sunglasses also shield the tears from the strangers. It just makes more sense to cry when it’s overcast.
I walked closer to the edge where the sand is more packed. With one ipod bud in my ear and the other free with the sound of the ocean, I felt as if my hearing was similar to yours. “Sit on my good side,” you would say. To keep things humorous, I would mouth words to not say anything at all, but you never knew when I was joking. Was your deaf ear like constantly having the ocean in it? That wouldn’t be so bad.
I saw two girls taking photos of one another on the beach. It reminded me of when Lyndsay and I would take “modeling” photos around your house. The same poses that when examined 10 years later induced serious giggles. The same pictures that you kept all these years.
I saw a father chasing a little girl on the sand. I remember you chasing me around the front yard of the yellow house. I never could understand how you caught me every time. It was unfathomable for me to think that you could actually be faster than me.
I hate to say it, but this emotional pain feels like the hardest breakup I’ve ever experienced. From the one man I thought could never break my heart.
Thursday, April 25, 2013 - 3:00p
Today, our walk consists of me plopping on the sand for a little reading and writing session. So, I’m sprawled across the sand, hoping a bird doesn’t shit on me even though I’ve heard that it’s good luck.
It’s funny how things seem to actualize when you want them bad enough. I remember saying how I only wanted to move back to California if I could live by the beach. Well, I’m here. Thank you for your support and encouragement. I know it must’ve been hard for you to see me go especially since you knew your health situation was getting worse. Had I known, I would’ve stayed.
I catch myself replaying our last conversation, and it makes me love you so much more. To be that selfless even when I wouldn’t have minded you being selfish.
“You know, Kristin, being put on hospice isn’t a death sentence. Some people live for years,” you said.
“Well, you better if you want some grand kids,” I said.
“Let me get adjusted with hospice. I’ll drive out and visit you soon.”
“Okay, daddy. I love you.”
“Love you too, kiddo.”
Today has been especially hard for me. I glanced at my favorites on my phone and saw your name still sitting at the top of the list. As much as it kills me, I listen to a saved voicemail just to hear your voice. Over and over.
Mom told me that as hard as the pain is to experience, it is healing to feel the feelings. I sure as hell hope so. It’s crazy to me how vast the feelings are from day to day.
It’s relaxing to hear the ocean come in, retreat, and repeat. When I sit here under the sun, it’s hard to understand why I would stay in my apartment at all. It’s so peaceful. A few sunbathers, two lovebirds, a couple of people who I can’t determine if they’re homeless or “homeless chic.” I love eavesdropping as well. And then sometimes when I tune in, I quickly turn the volume down.
I miss you.
Tuesday, April 30, 2013 - 10:14a
Mom joined me on my walk today. Our varying views for online dating entered the conversation, and I mentioned how you met Ann online. She looked at me before responding, “Yea, remember that.”
I really did try to form a relationship with her, pops. But, I no longer wish to have any contact with her after the way she treated CT. I can handle and work through my own pain, but I feel protective of my little brother.
“I’ll give him the truck,” she said, “but I would just like for it to be parked in the driveway for six months. So, I can just pretend he’s working in the shop or on a Harley ride.”
I understood that. It’s easier for me to simply think you have gone on a ride myself, wind blowing your black hair as you cruise across America with a pack of Marlboro Reds in your front shirt pocket. But, she packed all of his clothes in bags and signed the title over to him a week after you died. You know where she can shove her sentimental bullshit.
Thursday, May 2, 2013- 9:45a
I hadn’t anticipated feeling sad on my birthday. But, it is my first one without you.
“1988 was a good year for me,” you said, “I bought my first brand new car and then you were born. Baby and a Bronco, not too bad of a year at all.”
I laughed every time you repeated the story, loving the fact that that was how you remembered my birth year. My favorite story is a toss up between that one and the one I recently read in your handwriting. “I remember your mom going through labor, and being in the delivery room. I had to wear a gown, mask, and hair thingy. Also looking through the nursery window trying to find my little girl.”
I love envisioning you peering into the glass, trying to determine which little girl was me. And I envision me smiling up at you, ready to go home with you.
A year ago today, I received the best gift from you, a book of handwritten stories and memories.
“I don’t know what I did to deserve two great kids,” you wrote.
Well, I don’t know what I did to deserve such a great dad who taught me valuable life lessons:
-That you can sometimes say more with one look than any words.
-That Confucius said, “One degree equals two happy parents.”
-That a happy biker can be identified by the number of bugs in his teeth.
-That sometimes it’s not the destination, it’s the scenic route.
-That life shouldn’t be taken so seriously.
-That in a pinch while camping, you can take a bar of soap to the lake.
-That a perfect day is good weather with friends and family.
-That we only get one shot at this ride of life, make the most of it.
Thank you for an amazing 24 years.