This week, we had weird weather…in that, it was beautiful outside.
I told Mac that, the sky was so blue-blue, and the trees were so green-green and the clouds were so white-white, none of them even seemed real.
It felt good to finally have a pretty day. It is now box fan weather–except, for our family, box fans are an all-year-long event. None of us can sleep without them, even if we don’t need them to make us cool. And we haven’t needed them to make us cool this year. This year’s nice weather has been delayed, so it hasn’t felt at all like last year.
Until today, it did.
And as much as I loved sitting outside and deciding to do nothing but enjoy the beautiful weather, it felt funny. It felt off. It actually felt bad.
It actually felt paralyzing.
Because I realized…it felt like last year’s weather.
Last year, when at this same time, Daddy was still breathing, but not himself.
The weather was a thing for me after ABB.
She, my adorable, special, one-of-a-kind friend who was to be my roommate at Ole Miss, died in a car wreck in October of that year, and we buried her on a cold, wet day, but it never mattered if it was October, or late September, or early November in the years after…I wasn’t looking at the calendar to know if I should be sad because I missed my friend.
I let the weather tell me when it was time.
The balmy became cool. A rain gave everyone some reief…exept me. I became depressed…taken back to a time when I first learned that the people I planned to plan my life with, may not stick around. Not by their own choice. I “lost” her.
She left, but not because she meant to.
But Daddy, Daddy left because he meant to.
And yet, the weather still wants to be a reminder.
As if I need one more.
First pretty days we have had in ages, and I have a yearning to be outside, in the sunshine, in my yard.
I want the sun to shine on my face, and I want to enjoy the crisp colors of the sky.
But then the weather reminds me: It felt this way last Spring when your daddy told you he wasn’t quite himself.
Feels like a taunt.
Feels like a: Your daddy wasn’t okay, and what did you do about it? You enjoyed your spring. You put on your shorts and went to the ball field and worked in your yard while your daddy was withering away like the plants that just decied they wouln’t accept those roots, wouldn’t grow.
I did enjoy my Spring, maybe selfishly, may obliviously, last year, but there was a cloud. Something was wrong ith my daddy, but I didn’t know what. He told me what. But I never believed…and still don’t believe…what. He recited a laundry list of things about which he was worried. He wasn’t sleeping. It just didn’t feel urgent. It didn’t feel dire. It felt like we will figure this out. Because we always did.
And the things about which he was worried were not necessarily things not to worry about, but they were things everyone worries about. And they were not the things he, of all people, normally worried about.
So we moved on while keeping a close eye and made the yard prettier and on the Tuesday before the Thursday, he sat on my couch while I tried to figure out the box fan delimna.
We were supposed to go the Bahamas the Saturday after the Thursday that he left, and he was in a twist because he couldn’t figure out if we could fly with box fans, and what kind of suitcases or boxes we needed if we could fly with box fans, and if we couldn’t fly with box fans, if there was a place on the island to get box fans. So I tried to fit a box fan in a suitcase on my den floor while he sat on my couch and watched.
It didn’t work.
If I had an inkling that box fans may have been so damn important, I would have called whomever is in charge in the Bahamas and made sure that my daddy had as many box fans as our hotel room would hold. If I had a clue, he would have had a bazillion box fans waiting at the airport, all holding signs with his name on them to indicate they were there, just for him.
I promise I would have.
The morning he left, he told Mama he didn’t want to go to the Bahamas.
She told him we would not go to the Bahamas, and she would tell us that we weren’t going to the Bahamas later that day.
He no longer had to worry about the box fans.
off. the. hook. daddy.
you were off. the. hook.
please don’t go.
please just stay here.
the kids will understand.
we don’t care. not even a little bit.
don’t go to the bahamas, but don’t go anywhere else. not without us.
let’s just agree to that.
can’t we just agree to that one thing, that one tiny thing?
it’s such a tiny thing.
Beautiful day. Gorgious June day. Perfect day to sit outside.
Did you think that when you sat outside on that pretty June day?
Did you think about anything?
Did you think about us?
Were you not relieved you didn’t have to go to the Bahamas?
Why couldn’t that have been enough? You were off the hook. No trip. No explanation needed. To say we wouldn’t have cared would have been silly….you knew we wouldn’t care.
We cared about you.
But you didn’t even give us the chance to make sure you knew.
Or maybe you did, and we failed at each and every turn.
Maybe I failed a hundred times over.
I couldn’t figure out the box fans.
And so the weather that has given me peace all of my life is back—the wait is over–the cold has gone into hibernation–it is Spring, and I can put up my robe and my Uggs and just enjoy not being cold, which I always am, even when I shouldn’t be….now, inherently, gives me anxiety.
In the way that the moon is too big and the beach is too vast, the weather now makes me the oppoistive of content.
Thanks, Daddy. Thanks for stealing all of the good stuff.
One day, maybe I’ll embrace cold winters and mountains and moonless nights…maybe I’ll seek them out….just because you can’t steal them.
Because none of those will remind me of you.
And none of those will take me back to the days and weeks before you left us, when something wasn’t right, but we didn’t know how badly it wasn’t right, because you were still coming to Mac’s baseball games and you were still picking him up on Saturday mornings, and you were still interested in what Scott was growing in the garden and you still smiled that smile and laughed that half-laugh, that laugh that told me you felt it deep inside, when Leelee gave you a rock with your name on it for Father’s Day and you still took Mac to get a haircut the night before you left and you still ate Sunday lunch and talked to me about the book I was writing and you still……..you still……..were you.
But you weren’t.
I know I couldn’t figure out the box fans, but don’t you know….I just didn’t know?? I just didn’t see?
You wouldn’t let me see.
Instead, you stole my pretty weather.
Instead, you stole you.
And I’d give up pretty weather for the rest of my life if I could just have you.
But it doesn’t work that way.
Instead, I have to endure pretty weather without you.
Instead, I have to endure the memories that pretty weather brings without you.
Instead, I have to endure everything without you.
You stole all of the good stuff.
You stole you.
And you are the best stuff.
You are the best stuff of me.
….maybe it will be chilly tomorrow….