Thursday, February 10, 2011

Absence and presence

I don't know that I've ever written about the absence of a feeling. But I'm finding that absence in this case indicates presence. Talking in circles has a way of working out, I promise.
It has to do with February.
It has to do with what February has been for four years, and what it appears to be now.
February four years ago became tainted; a ruined month in which I faced the loss of my Dad. And though I'm not usually subject to moods in the winter months, I could feel February coming from a mile away. I embraced it in a way, allowing that it was a cold month anyway, so it would serve a dual purpose as The Month That Bodes All Ill. I settled in to be cold and broody in February for the remainder of my days.
Those first years, the feeling leached into the end of January. No sooner was I done celebrating the girls' birthday than I felt the looming doldrums.
It wasn't that I only missed him February, of course not.
It's just that anytime grief can find something material, something solid to transform into, it will grab hold. The potential is there, in anything they touched before moving on.

I will use this address book forever, because he gave it to me.
I will save this scrapbook set forever, because he chose it for me.

It becomes a living crypt, to treat objects this way. They cannot just be things, they must be Things. Things of Connection. Things that Link. Tethers to a being who is now tetherless.

This February there is an absence. An absence of doldrums, an absence of ye olde hole of grief. But the marvel is that not only is that absence, umm, present - but it has been replaced by new growth. A burst of creativity. A feeling of myself, in full, that has been limping along in the shadow for four years.
Welcome, traveler!
I have become the traveler, and have crossed that line from the crypt of grief to one who is able to welcome life in all its fullness.
And I am so very thankful.
This February when the tears come, they will bear drops of joy, for I am becoming what he wished.


  1. Bethany,

    This is so sweet. You know, my Mama lost both of her parents when she was 15. She and her siblings to that...they hold on to {objects}.
    It is interesting.
    It has always been hard to understand for me.
    But, in my adult{hood} I am very careful not to make light of it..b/c I cannot truly understand it.
    Glad your February has not been too bad--
    February has always been the suckiest month to me!
    The longest-shortest month--
    Ironically--Valentine's day is my FAVORITE holiday...

  2. Beautifully written. Thank you for sharing this.

  3. I'm so glad to hear this, Bethany. It truly does take time. And amelia is spot on - this is beautifully written. Hugs and love to you, my friend!

  4. oh this is just really beautiful. after my father died our house was full of guests staying over and it came to me to occupy what had been my father's bed. under his pillow I found his handkerchief, and couldn't bare to part with it or even launder it. I kept it in a box in a special place. until a few months ago, when I decided it was time to let it go - after 15 years.
    you're on your way. have a beautiful weekend.


Put it right here, babe!