Friday, February 17, 2017

Good Night Papa Bear Part II

**Photo by Brian Chism**


When I was a little girl, my dad and I spent many summer days at Silver Strand Beach. He packed sandwiches and chips for us in a blue backpack and I brought my little pail and shovel in a little bag. It was us versus the ocean. I didn't realize until I was older that my love for the water comes from him. Landscapes and beautiful views connect us because we share a love of reveling in nature's greatness. On top of mountains overlooking valleys, the oranges and blues colliding in a sunset or gigantic trees that teach us patience and respect - all of those things are inside of me because of him. 

So when Brian and I ended up at Pismo Beach for my birthday weekend (where you can actually drive onto the sand with your car which still blows me away) I found comfort in the beauty of the ocean. I thought of my dad and moments with nature that we shared throughout our life together. I felt at peace knowing I wouldn't hear his birthday wish because somewhere in the rolling green hills, the ebb and flow of the ocean, the giant rocks of Morro Bay or in the love that my husband showered upon me - his spirit resonated within my soul. 

I was one with the ocean. One with him. 

The folder with my name on it that I found in my dad's room (Good Night Papa Bear Part I) after he passed was extremely important. Inside were the lyrics to two songs I wrote and most importantly, the collection of thoughts or journal entries that I made when my grandfather passed away in 2006. After my mom told me what happened with my grandfather, I called my dad to let him know. He was upset, got choked up and had to call me back. When we spoke again I was unsure whether or not I should go to the funeral because of work. My uncle and my mom planned to drive to Missouri so I knew it would take a couple of days to get there and back. 

My dad didn't hesitate to emphasize that this was a no-brainer. I had to be there and family was more important than work. Of course, now that I look back I hate to think that I could have almost let work get in the way of one of the most important experiences of my life but we are all young and naive at times in our lives. Sometimes, all we need are the words of the wise to show us the way. 

I can't remember if we left during the day or at night. I do know that the changing terrains, the changing skies, Radiohead's The Tourist on repeat and the purpose of our trip inspired me to write down almost every thought that came into my head. Watching my mother very closely, I realized that I was there...for her...a daughter and a son from the west driving east to say goodbye to their father. Here are a few excerpts from my journal during that trip:


May 17 - 22, 2006

The wheels are turning...he brought us here...my grandpa...the bridge...the link between sunrise and sunset...the great tree in the forest. The tie between hermits. The creator of families. 

We are all humans first, people second. 
Come to me humble and I shall welcome you with kindness. 
Receive me with hostility and we shall dance with swords.

The light is the perfect light to leave against. It is warm and golden.

Everyone deals with pain differently. Although I am a sensitive creature, I cannot run. I prefer to face pain -- let it hit me like a train and the scattered pieces take form. Let it come and fly over me -- an eagle searching for the unknown.

The world I see right now is a blue that holds so much sadness. It is the calm after the storm...though not peaceful. Her face is one of thought, contemplation and reflection. My soul burns every time a tear drops from her eyes -- to live is to share her pain. I am here as a witness..another tree in the forest swaying to a familiar tune. Another set of eyes who appear at the scene observing, watching and remembering. My hand is a cloth for her to use through this unexpected and unexplainable circus. We are all players - all clowns hiding behind human faces. All hurting beneath concealed wounds. 
All soldiers in this battle of life - ill-equipped and unprepared. 

Looking through old pictures, just like my mom did as a girl, I've always felt odd. Like a crayon left outside the box. 
An alien among aliens. An anomaly. That is why it is vital for me to stand by her side. 
To be omnipresent in all she does and all I do...for us. 
Our story will always be one of enlightenment, tribulation, acknowledgement and most importantly love

(Somewhere in New Mexico) The sky is afire. My heart is restless. The mountains stare at me waiting for my breath. 
I belong there with my hands reaching for the sky beckoning the sun's kisses. 
The setting sun reminds me of the patience night holds for day. Darkness waits quietly for its turn. 
We are those rocks settled next to each other - linked by centuries, ages, eons, forever one with the earth's birth. 



Reading these words in my dad's room, time stopped. Finding comfort in my own words was surreal. Then knowing that he found comfort in them and left them there for me invokes a feeling in my chest that I can't truly express in words. Coping with the death of your father through the words you wrote to cope with the death of your grandfather. If you know my dad, then you know that anything he reads, prints out or has lying around is of the utmost importance to him. He was very meticulous about articles, books or any piece of information he found useful. 

When my dad passed away, a daughter and her mom from the west traveled east to say goodbye. With the weight of the world on our shoulders, we did not hesitate to take the soonest flight we could find to be there. There was nothing that would stop me from being with him. 

Daddy, if you can read this and hear my voice, here are a few excerpts from my journal during our trip:

Dec/Jan 2017

En route...LAX...with mom...is this a nightmare?

 The first Christmas I don't make the phone call. The fact that I can't access your voice right away unnerves me. Then I see the ocean and it calms me. Reminds me that where there is beauty - a beautiful landscape, there's our love. 
We both share a love of nature's magnificence and now that you are uncaged, unleashed, infinite - 
you're very much a part of that magnificence. 

Summarizing all of those things I couldn't do is like saying I couldn't save you. And the truth is no one could. I wish to God I could have but no one could. Even those who say they could - being saved is a two-way street when someone elects to be saved. I don't know if my presence would have made it easier or harder. Because I would have never wanted to let you go. I would have probably kept you lingering on in misery and pain and that would have been selfish of me and suffering for you.

Better your lion spirit break free with a force stronger than anything on this earth.
Better your lungs expand to hold an infinite supply of breath and ease.
Better you smile in the heaven's golden parachutes and watch your three kids come together to send you off.
Better you free than caged.
Better you infinite than mortal.

Your birthday was yesterday. I spoke with my mom, Naje, Josie, Rashied and Brian and felt some peace during the day. Then towards the night, the sadness set in again. I miss you. I miss knowing you were there. 
Like a light beacon on another plane that I knew could always reel me in. And now nothing. Silence. 
I know that's not completely true as all I need to do is use my heart and mind to feel you and remember. 
But I can't hear your voice and that hurts.

The solace is that your spirit was so strong. Your stubbornness is probably what kept you alive. What kept you going. 
Your strong spirit is what I felt inside your room...inside your house...inside the memories. I miss you so much Daddy. 
I can't even convey the depth of my longing. Especially the first day you left and I begged you to come back. 
I am looking for so many signs. I see them but then sometimes I slip into despair. Time, I know will makes things simpler and easier as I adjust my life to live without you physically in it. I must find a way to live with you spiritually in it. 

Going through our text messages and missing my text buddy. 
Your signature luvurdad which I actually found really neat and creative. 

I just listened to your voicemail greeting again. 

I hope you are laughing, smiling and waiting for us...
You are the oldest so you'll have to show us the ropes when we exit this play. 
When I am old and ready, I will call for you and you will help me adjust to the after life. 
You will give me an hour lecture on flying and soaring the heavens and 
there we will reside in the sunset...in the sky. 

And now that you are one with the light I wonder if you'll be my guardian angel. 

I think you are...I know you'll want to protect and shield. 

After all, you are and always will be my father. 

**My mom and my grandfather**


**Me and my Papa Bear - 5.1.11**