October 19, 2010

Today is one of those days where I find it difficult to avoid reflecting on my life. In the same way that, say, the new year, the beginning of September or even a birthday can have me scanning my internal inventory, in order to assess where things are at. Today is like one of those days – but more profound. Seven years ago (seven? really?!) at this moment I was gathering up the remnants in a room on a palliative ward: a bath robe, slippers, newspapers and toiletries, the personal effects my father had just left behind after sailing away, although I felt as if he was still with me. And, I guess he was. He always will be.

If I were to thrust a fist into my brain and pull out a few random memories from that morning, my unfurled palm would reveal: Butterfly kisses my eye lashes planted on my father’s hand while he was sleeping. Me watching him inhale then exhale then inhale – for hours. Then afterward, making dreaded phone calls to siblings and relatives. Sitting with my father’s partner (who had spent almost every night with him while he was in palliative care) and feeling so close to her. I remember meeting my mother (they had divorced close to thirty years earlier) in the parking lot of the facility. I can still almost feel that cold, crisp, October morning, Winnipeg air on my skin. I can still almost see, when I close my eyes, how incredibly clear and blue and, yes, even breathtaking the sky appeared through my blurry eyes and foggy, sleep-deprived and heavy head. I remember how good it felt to see my mother walking towards me and then putting my arms around her and pulling her warmth in. And, I recall, so vividly, saying good-bye to my dad while mom waited outside his room. It felt as if he was still there with me except for the absence of movement, save for that tsunami sized tear stain spreading on his gown.


Days like today make me think about the past and how you can never change it. How pointless it is in trying. Have you ever done something you regret?  When after the deed is done, or, isn’t done, you wish you had – or hadn’t? If only you could hit rewind, then record again, and see what outcome might unfold. I have. Who me? But regrets are so pointless. Our lives are not pieces of film we can wind back and do over. We can’t hit select all, or some, and then delete and retype. We are human and a part of life is about fucking up and then, hopefully, learning from our miss-takes. I can not say I am proud of all of the choices I’ve made in my life or that at times I’ve not strayed from the path of who I want to be. I continue to grow daily and I continue to fumble along and then brush my bruised knees off and try again, gracefully at times, and not so gracefully at others. I can beat myself up and pat myself on the back, as well as saying and doing the wrong things and then feeling as useless as a piece of old driftwood. But even a piece of driftwood can be used as a buoy at times. If need be.

Sometimes my gut churns over past events I could have handled differently. Why did I say that? Do that? React that way? Allow that to happen?And I can find if hard to recognize the person responsible for those things even though it is into my own eyes I am glaring. But these things do happen. I am certain the amount of energy I expend (is the word waste too harsh here) in making those churning motions could serve be better elsewhere. I cannot erase the past nor should I bother trying. But I can recognize when I have behaved a way contrary to my true character and I must adjust myself accordingly time and time again. All I can do now is learn, grow, move on, move forward.

By the way, this morning I read via my friends blog, here, a coincidentally related piece which can speak to all of us about “perfection”.

My father was not a perfect man (neither and I nor I have ever claimed to be – although I still get the point of that shared link above) but I loved him deeply. I wish he had said more and/or that I had asked more but none of that can be changed now. I suppose we all need to decide what we want to hang on to and what are the things that we need to let go.


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