Wednesday, December 15, 2010

To Tell the Truth

In just over an hour, it'll be six years since I began writing this blog. I wrote my first entry on December 15th, 2004, sometime after 1:00 a.m. I generally wrote blog entries late at night or in the wee hours of the morning.
Did I do my best thinking then, I wonder, or was it just the last-bit-of-the-day's-escape for me?

If I look at the "log" of my blog posts, they were more plentiful a few years ago. As my life met with some curve balls, namely family illness, the writing often diminished -- and being the amateur analyst that I am, I always assumed that it was that I didn't want to tell the truth. I didn't want to reveal my deepest, darkest secrets or fears. I didn't want to capture some painful truths for eternity in blogland.

So my posts sometimes scratched at the surface; they didn't talk about "me", but rather generalities. But deep down, that has never satisfied me. I write. Writing is often my voice. I find that I generally can write streamofconsciousness-fashion, and it works for me. It is easier to vocalize on paper what one can't say in real life.  Thus, the fabulous, detailed and lengthy letters I've written all my life; thus the warm and personable letters of condolence I've always written.

A button is pushed, and the words simply come.

But to tell the truth, they don't any longer. My writing continues to be somewhat reserved and spotty, when it comes to keeping my blog. When I was younger, I kept countless journals over time. But I also became somewhat of a slave to the journal, thinking that if I didn't write about something one day, I'd lose it. So I forced myself to write. The writing also became somewhat sporadic as a result. The evening I got engaged is the last time I wrote in my journal.

I will talk about truth now. This is something I didn't write about in my blog, nor did I write about it in poems I've written since March 2009 -- when my father died. With his death came a slight sigh of relief -- for his sake, not ours . With his death came a great measure of gratitude -- for all the years that we did have with him, and all the fine memories we created together. And with his death came the pain of loss, the pain of watching loved ones contend with their loss, and learning to live my life without my father in it.

When my father was rushed to the hospital, where he remained unconscious for the week, until he took his last breath, I'd visit and see the changes in his body. Yes, he looked like he was sleeping, but with tubes in his nose and in his arms, and clear bags that were filling up with bodily fluids, it wasn't a normal sight.

My father's hands and feet swelled beyond belief. I would massage his hands and talk quietly to him in hope that he would hear what I was saying: that I hoped he was not in pain, that he was a wonderful father and such a fine person and that we were lucky to have him in our lives, that if it was his time to go, he should go.
I rested my hand on his chest, lifted his chubby hand and placed it on mine. It was a childish thing to do, but I did it because I wanted to feel as if it was he who had done it; as if it was he who was placing his hand on mine to comfort me.

I did that countless times throughout that week. Placing my hand on his chest and placing his hand over mine. To comfort me. To help me deal with this difficult time.

And when he took his last breath, I put my hand on his. To comfort him. To deal with this difficult time.

I kissed him. I thanked him.


I didn't cry. I always imagined I would scream in hysteria  (just like in a classic movie scene) when my father would die -- especially in a hospital bed, which is the last place he wanted to die. But I didn't cry. I was calm. I was reserved. I continued to comfort those around me. My niece. A nephew. A sister-in-law. My older brothers.

I didn't really comfort myself. I didn't cry. I wrote a simple but beautiful eulogy, which I read at the funeral. A few months later, I wrote and read a beautiful speech when the headstone was unveiled. And I have continued to write my poems. About my father. About his death.

I never believed I need to talk to a professional about my loss. I still don't. It isn't simply a brave front I've been putting up since his death -- because with all his hospitalizations for serious matters over the years, I've put up a front. I believe it's just an acceptance that I've been dealing with. I've handled it in a matter-of-fact fashion, yet at the back of my mind, I've always believed that something, at some point in time, will set me off. Crying. For that particular loss and all it entailed.

Back in late October, I went to a funeral; it was for the father of a distant friend. And as I listened to the eulogies given by the rabbi and a grandson, I recognized great similarities between that deceased man and my father. I felt weepy, but I didn't cry.

After the service, it is customary for the mourners and funeral attendees to follow the hearse holding the coffin for at least a few yards, sometimes to the main road. It is a sign of respect for the departed. I joined the throng of people and started to walk a few steps when I lost it. I rushed to the sidewalk  and with gasping breaths, struggled to compose myself; my husband, who'd been walking amidst the crowd, caught my eye and came back to be with me, and comfort me.

Yes, I felt sorry for that friend on her loss, but it wasn't her I was crying for. It was me. The tears had finally come. The tears for my father.

It was as if when I began to walk behind the hearse, that March 8, 2009 came rushing back at me. It was as if I was walking behind my father's hearse -- which is something we did not do that day at the funeral chapel, but something we did do at the cemetery before my father found his final resting place.

Yes, it was a release for me, and I guess I hadn't realized just how much I needed that cry. No, it didn't last long, but the dam had burst.

My husband understood what had happened and told me he was still so surprised how composed I'd remained all these months. I guess my poetry was a vehicle for reading between the lines and seeing invisible tears smudge the ink of the words.

Tears are telling. Words are telling.

Thank you for listening.