Just Like That

And like that, it’s all become a memory. I visited home this weekend and I didn’t see a home. I saw the house I grew up in and the couch we cried on and the bed we lost my dad in and for the first time, I felt like a foreigner in that world, looking at it from the outside, as an adult. I saw myself looking at a young girl who was watching her family fall apart, her father wither away, her childhood disappear. I feel grown up. I feel like a working adult who spends most of her days worried about things people worry about in a day. But being home and seeing the tulips blossom and hearing the chickadees chirp and feeling the light of the full moon took me back. I was back to living in this house with my mom and dad and brother. I was back to seeing my healthy dad’s eyes signal to me “one more episode” and was back to hearing his laugh as we ran around the block. I was back to feeling the house filled with people and light and love and noise and commotion and being part of an undefeatable team. And then I was back to it all going away. To it slipping through my fingers and to my mom being terrified of her future and my dad losing his physical and emotional strength and I heard ALYSSA and I could run to grab my dad before he fell out of bed on his way to the bathroom for the third time that night. And I felt the drives. The hollowed gut and impossible to swallow feeling of 7am drives up to Boston to hear the verdict from the MRI of how much longer my dad would get to live. I’d forgotten that feeling. Of sitting as 4 trying to hold each other up as we were being held hostage to a scan. I remember the incredible lightness of getting a good scan. Of hearing the words “no new growth” and driving home with the radio on and my dad’s seat leaned back as he fell asleep peacefully with his seat in our laps knowing we had another month together. I remember the horrific screams coming out of my mouth as I heard the doctor say there was nothing else to be done. I can’t think of a greater pain. Than sitting next to my dad and allowing a doctor to deliver the biggest nightmare a human can hear and not being able to do anything about it but scream. Yell at the doctor and beg him to tell us something different. I remember stopping at our favorite deli on the way home and thinking oh my god this is the last time my dad will ever eat greek food. Just like that life can be here and then it can be taken from you. Just like that. It’s unfathomable. The pain is unfathomable and I look at the girl who went through it and I want to hug her. I want to hug her and I want to run and hug my dad. I want to be a member of that family again and be a team and be waking up together talking about how to fill the beautiful day. I don’t want to be an adult. Looking at the couch and seeing a memory. I don’t want it to all be a memory, the pain of the past, the paradise of the more distant past, it’s all the past and it’ll never be the future. I remember calling domino’s at midnight after I’d talked for hours with my brother about life. About our beautiful life we didn’t even realize we had. And how it was disappearing and how even in the midst of it our dad was still leading us still getting us outside still making us laugh. I miss it all. I miss feeling whole and sitting in this house and it being enough. I don’t want it to be a memory. I don’t want the memory to fade. I don’t want my dad to not keep growing with me as I grow. I want to go back and stop time. I want to look at my dad harder. Look at my life more closely. Breathe in the mountain air once we’d made it to a peak and really let it fill my lungs. I want it all back. And it’s gone and I’m an adult and it’s a memory and I am mad. I am angry that it happened so fast and that now I’m under this roof and all I feel are ghosts. Ghost of my dad and of me and of my family. But I am also grateful to have such a remarkable ghost. To hold such goegeous memories. And I know that in a few years I’ll look back at this moment and wish it were the present. More bad will happen, more love will be lost and more moments will become memories. So, as painful as it is, I am fighting the urge to be mad and instead, indulging in the memories and being grateful for them. I am making an effort to breathe in that air now and squeeze my people harder because tomorrows come fast and they add up quickly. I want to live in the moments before they become memories. My dad lived life so agressively and so fully and how dare I not do the same.