Heartbeats and Sugar Daddies...

A lot happens in a week. Yesterday it was one week since Dad died. Now, I'm not big on remembering events by date but my aunt is. She called to see how I was doing.

I told her, fine, really. I was sitting at the kitchen table, gobbling down McDonald's chicken strips because the day had been too busy for cooking. I was doing the daily crossword puzzle, a habit I caught from Dad.

I told her that my year with Dad and his pulmonary fibrosis was magical; that all the grief I expected to feel wasn't there...probably because of our long goodbye.

And then I remembered Target. Tuesday night I went to Target and as I approached the entrance I saw a young woman walking with her father. An adult woman and her dad. I watched them, trying to push down the surge of grief that tugged at my heart. I can't do that ever again, I thought. I can't walk into a store with my dad. I can't do anything with my dad. He's gone.

So, I gave myself a mental bitch slap. You dummy, Dad's always with you, remember? He lives inside your heart, your memory, your very soul.

Yeah, that and a buck won't buy me a cup of coffee with him.

Sigh. I tried a different approach with myself...and mind you, all of this going on as I walk through the door behind them, studying their progress to an end cap where they study candy.

You idiot, I told myself...That's not her father! That's her sugar daddy!

I watched their body language. He leaned closer to her, his look more seductive than fatherly.

Ewwww! Ick!!!

Self-pity party over.

But when my aunt called I had another moment.

"I can't stop thinking about this one thing," I told her. "I just remember my hand on his chest, feeling his heartbeat so strong beneath my fingers and then, it just stopped. The feel of that last, small goodbye just seems to echo in my memory. I can't turn it loose. I felt his heart stop."

My aunt is silent for a moment. "But remember what he told you," she said. "I am always with you. And what you said, 'He is everywhere and nowhere.'"

But I was remembering my friend from high school, Steve. He fell in a freak accident and broke his neck. He was such a talented musician and songwriter. But when he realized he would never again move his hands, he gave me his guitar. A few years later, after Steve died, I found myself thinking I was playing just a little bit better. I believed Steve's energy travelled through the hollow body of that instrument to blend with mine. I felt as if a tiny part of his legacy lived on in me. I thought I was a better musician because of Steve's gift.

Why wasn't I seeing the same thing in my father's death? Why see a traumatic ending of his physical being when the alternative is so much closer to reality?

A bit of his energy flowed into my body with that final heartbeat- hopefully it will help me to be a better person- a kinder, wiser human being who tries her best to follow in his footsteps.

Of course, I can't expect to achieve sainthood overnight. Not while I still channel my inner bitch so easily. No, I'm going to look at this tiny bit of Dad like it's a vaccine...slowly my body and soul will build up an immunity to that part of me that is so overly sensitive and quick to find fault...and I will develop greater tolerance and kindness.

Yeah, like maybe when I'm 90.

For now my Inner Bitch and my newly acquired, Angelic Potential, will have to learn to get along inside this one body.

Cause if they don't, I'm gonna whip somebody's ass....um, I mean, I'm gonna try to realize that life's a process and that Inner Bitch and Angel are only acting out of their own insecurities and fears.

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