While on hold, my “personal banker” closing an account that I’ve had since 1996 due to it being hacked looks over at me and awkwardly tries to cover the silence. “So what you doing this weekend?”
Without looking up from my phone I said, “Going to my dad’s funeral.” I could hear her gasp. I stopped reading, looked up and made eye contact. Her face was trying to morph back into professionalism all the while she began to fight back the uneasy tears.
“Oh my God. I’m so sorry.”
“It’s ok. So what are you doing?” I’m amazing at deflection.
It’s funny how those who have “normal” social skills can read facial expressions to understand how your words impact others. I realized that I sounded harsh and cold. To be honest that brought a little smile to my face. That meant I was coming back. That meant my brutal honesty that I deliver with consistency is back. Sometimes I wonder is honesty to hard to hear?
Most think because I’m kind and empathetic that I’m emotional. I’m not. I don’t cry in front of people on a regular. I can say things that normally destroy people without emotion as if I’m ordering off a menu. I was taught to be honest above all. I am very literal and my honesty is often hard to hear.
“I’m watching football.” Her mouth open gasping for the right thing to say.
“Oh fun!” I put my phone down, giving her my focused attention.
“Were you close to your dad?” She looked at me absolutely devastated.
I paused knowing in that moment I had the choice to be genuine or be the cold version that helps me survive. “Yes.” Deep breath. “Very close.” I decided to let my eyes fill with tears. A decision I haven’t had in a few weeks. During these last few weeks I haven’t been able to control that. The tears come like a sneeze, out of the blue or with a few seconds of warning and unable to stop.
“Wow. I can’t even imagine.” She talked about health and her father’s refusal to take care of himself. I nodded appropriately and gave my therapeutic response of self-care and how we can make a difference in our generation. My tears never fell because I was focused on her now. Back in a very comfortable and neat box.
She tended to the phone call to close my account. I realize it’s a double whammy. Closing an account I’ve had for almost 2 decades and emotionally preparing myself for saying goodbye publicly to the man I loved the most.
Please don’t get me wrong. I cry. I just don’t do it publicly. In fact before I walked into the bank I had just wiped the uncontrollable tears. It’s nice though to know I can say my dad is dead with ice cold in my voice. That means I’m a step closer to being me again.
As close as I am to being me again I am reminded that this has been a shitty week. A week full of tears. A week full of fetal position sadness. A week full of emptiness. A week full of me staring at my dad (or the box his ashes are in) and not knowing what to say. A week full of going through photos trying to create an album knowing that you don’t have enough photos of your dad because it just wasn’t his thing. A week full of pain realizing you wish you had made him take more photos. A week full of wishing you’d spent more time in person. A week full of realizations that you worked too fucking much and could have spent time sharing his air. Yeah I’m crying now writing this in case you wanted to know.
The hardest thing I’ve done was click create a slideshow on the photos I had put together for the person we are having create a slideshow. Like that with the press of play I was a sobbing mess. I cried for hours as I watched over and over and over. This week I have been perfecting the slide show as a tribute for me to have. The tribute to almost 76 years of life. The tribute to the almost 4 decades of my life with a man who was my sanity, my best friend, my Fixer of everything. Almost 9 minutes of memories and yet that doesn’t feel like it’s doing him justice.
Unfortunately, much of my life we were too poor to even have a camera. That sucks ass and let’s be honest it’s ok because I spent most of much childhood in the moment as opposed to now where I spend most of my life trying to capture all the moments I can!
Not many people could capture his smile like I could. Today I miss that smile. That smile that could be heard through the phone. That smile that shined every time I walked through the door. That smile that waved gently goodbye as I left the hospital the night before he died. That smile that would have shook his head at me for making that poor banker feel bad with my cold honesty.
Today I miss my Popi.