Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Moving Day

(This is written on what would have been the 70th anniversary of the wedding of our parents)

My sister is saying goodbye to our father, again.
Yesterday morning she called me, a quiver punctuating her words. "I have been very weepy for the last two days." She knew that I would understand.

Our father passed away on December 13, 1979 after a two year battle with cancer. Next month will mark 36 years without his slightly crooked smile, the warmth of his embrace, the intelligence and grace that permeated every fiber of his being. One would think that after the passage of so much time the pain of his leaving would have dissipated and eventually disappeared.

But the truth is that my sister and I still grieve, still cry, still are stung by the reality that we have been forced to live so much of our lives without his life, his hand as a guiding force.

My sister has worked in the same building in New York City for more than 40 years. It is this building in which our father had his law office, and it was on a visit to him there that serendipity brought my sister and her employer together.

Her company is moving to another part of the city at the end of this week. It is time to say farewell to this home, but it is not in the job related memories being stored in the packed boxes that my sister's sorrow lies. It is in the recollection of the days that she and our father would meet for lunch, in the moments that they could steal together from their work days, in the sound and feel of our dad's office, in the comfort of knowing that he was there for her, just a moment away. 

It is that immediacy which my sister senses is being discarded, like one more item that is not making the trip to the new locale. It is the feeling that our father is still alive in these walls, still here, still able to take the time to hold his one and only daughter in his arms, to give her that feeling of security and comfort that only he could provide. It is the sadness of thinking that when her office door closes for the last time, this will all be gone.

I spoke earlier this week with a friend of mine who is going through the grieving process of having recently lost his dad. He talked of recently having gone to a synagogue to pray. He listened to the words of a man who was there to honor the memory of his father's passing thirty years ago, and who continued to lament his loss. My friend said that the reality of this pain had caused him to break down and weep.

I did not cry as I listened to my sister's words. It is hard for both of us to lose control simultaneously. She talked haltingly, long pauses punctuating her conversation as she tried to gather herself. I told her to take solace in knowing that this pain would pass, that tomorrow or the next day she would begin to regain her equilibrium, that there were new adventures that awaited her where she was headed.

But the truth is that tomorrow will really not lessen this pain, the one that has lingered for well more than three decades. And that feeling that every piece of our father that disappears is one we can never retrieve. My sister does not want to leave this place, this attachment this connection. She does not want to lose the touch of our dad's hand, the smile on his face, the knowledge that he is there, right there whenever she needs him.

The last boxes will be carted out of this building by the end of this week, but there is one that cannot be neatly packaged and labeled. It resides in the heart and head of my sister. If there is one piece of advise, one consoling thought that I could give her, it is that she should know that although she physically vacates the building, she can never leave behind the memories of our dad. She carries them with her wherever she goes.


Anonymous said...

Beautiful and heartfelt; I’m sure your Dad would be so proud to hear how much his essence meant to you and your sister


Anonymous said...

beautifully, beautifully written post

Anonymous said...

simply riveting painful and beautiful about your dad.
i remember him so well in your house....always smiling with a sense of love and calm.


Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness. What great compassion you convey in your writing. Your ability to stir such emotion through words is uncanny. It is difficult to even meet a person that has such passion in his soul and can find words to express his feelings so tenderly.


Anonymous said...

my dad died in 1966...for many months after he died I would go to the phone to call him to give him some news or tell him about something funny that he might laugh about...almost 50 years later I still, once in a while, get the urge to talk to him...