My father died a decade ago today. Last night, fully exhausted from a long day putting up a fence around my yard, I had trouble getting to sleep. I am forgetting something, I am forgetting something, what am I forgetting. It is not that the incident is gone – it is faded but always there – but the fact that today is the particular date had slipped away. I fell asleep, finally, right about the same time of night he’d died, and even this morning I didn’t remember until my mother called and so helpfully pointed it out. Perhaps I associate it closely with tax day, and for the first time ever, I did my taxes about a month early. Who knows.

Even though the date nearly slipped by me, for a few weeks now I’ve seen it approaching, not with a particular sadness or dread, but simply: it is coming. In the early years the date felt like a cold driving rain. I may have gotten used to the cold; I may have gotten out of the mental weather; I may have gotten the bulk of the feelings out of my system when I wrote about it a few years ago. Now, it simply is. This afternoon I sat on the couch and both kids giggled and laughed and climbed on me at once and hugged me with little arms and I thought dad, I wish you could meet your grandkids. I wish they could meet you. But that was about it.

In a few days the new fence will fully enclose the yard, make me feel more in control of my little domain, make it safer for my children from neighboring dogs, keep what’s important inside. Last night my neighbor and I raced against darkness to get the western side complete. I turned around to look at my yard and realized every picket we put up blocked a bit more of the setting sun, and that beautiful light I love, the last streaks of the day glancing off the grass as night falls, would soon be gone, and it won’t come back. Something else to get used to.


This was published on 15 Apr 2008.
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