Tuesday, September 27, 2011


The kids run ahead of me, clattering up the walkway to my Mom's house.  I trail behind, laden with bags of presents, an ache in the middle of me.

"Happy Birthday, Greta!" my Mom chirps from the doorway, bending down for hugs.

This moment is always hard.

I can see him there, in my mind's eye, standing behind my Mom and grinning his big, proud grin.  

"Hey there, kid" my Dad would say, and give me a wink as he wrapped me in his strong embrace. 

But, of course, he isn't there. 

The absence of him seems impossible, because in my mind and heart he's everywhere.

My Mom and I exchange a hug and a smile; behind the real joy in her eyes I see the sadness, and a silent acknowledgment - I wish he was here, too - passes between us.

Finn scampers away, digging around for toys and snacks.  On the table in the living room is a colorful pile of presents, and Greta flashes me a big grin. 

As my Mom and the kids chatter - how is school, what's your favorite subject, do you like riding the bus - I breathe deep, let the emotions come.   

I picture him standing in the kitchen, "El, can I get you a cuppa?" he'd say, bringing out mugs for coffee.  Then he'd give the kids a mischievous glance and make that funny sound with his mouth, the one that makes them collapse into giggles.

I need this private indulgence, this ghost landscape of what would have been.   I carry memories in my heart, take them out and roll them through my mind like glittering treasure, and through the ache they comfort me.

We move through the day, go through all the usual motions, balancing the profound feeling of loss with happiness, like tightrope walkers.  We're figuring it out as we go along, eyes locked straight ahead, because if we look down we could lose ourselves to the sadness.

As Greta rips into her gifts, Finn slips silently into my lap and leans his head on my shoulder.  I stroke his spiky hair, and place a little kiss on the top of his head.

After a moment, he buries his head into my chest and whispers, "Momma?  I miss PopPop."

"Me too, buddy.  Me too."


Just Write

This post is part of Heather of the Extraordinary Ordinary's link-up, Just Write, where we free write about our ordinary and extraordinary moments. Learn more about it here, and then click here to join in.


  1. I so get this. My dad has been gone for 7 years, some days it seems like just yesterday that he was here, dropping off sweets for the girls in his box van telling me about some new project he's dreamt up that will make him lots of money.

  2. My dad isn't gone yet and I dread these moments. I know your dad is thankful for every moment he got with you and the kids.

  3. Awww....

    My dad has been gone almost 20 years. I was 23 when he died so I'm hitting an odd mile marker soon where he will be gone for as long as I knew him. I still miss him. I miss that he never met my daughter or my husband.

    So many of today's Just Write posts are about grief. It gets all of us and is inescapable. The best thing we can all do is write about it and remember and keep breathing.

  4. It really doesn't get easier. Right before I read your post I sent an email about missing my mom to a friend. Thinking of you, I know you teared up writing this, I teared up reading it!

  5. This brought tears to my eyes. I know the day will come for my family too. I dread it. So dread it.

    Thank you for sharing. It makes me really glad that my children are so close to their grandparents.

  6. AH! Tears!! I'm so sorry for your loss. Still and always.

  7. Well, my original comment got "eaten" and that makes me sad.


    I can feel the love you have for him here, the love you all have.

    This made me cry because even though my father is still here, I think about the day when he is not. And as the years pass (he'll be 79 in Jan.) I worry about it more. I can't imagine him not being behind my mother and giving me his big bear hugs.

    My heart goes out to you, sweet lady. I know you all miss him so. xoxo

  8. I can feel this through your writing. I'm so sorry for your loss and your grief. I like what you wrote about allowing yourself that ghost-landscape and how that comforts you through the ache. I get that.

  9. I have tears streaming down my cheeks. I so get this. That little snuggle from Finn. My dear husband is away on business this week and my almost 4 year old, every so often, will say "I wish Daddy were here." or "I really miss my Daddy." And all I can do is say, "Me too."

    And I dread the time when it will be my Pa that is gone. And when I won't be able to add, "but we'll see him Wednesday evening."

  10. This is heartbreaking :(

    Yes, these memories haunt us but they can also be reassuring. They did live. They did love us. They were here. And still are.

  11. Oh tears. I'm sorry Ellie. So sorry. I can't even imagine the grief.

  12. Oh, I just want to hug you. And those kids. (And I don't even know you- is that weird?)

  13. Me too, lost a parent too soon. Heartbreaking. Love to you and be kind to yourself, it does get easier. Peace.

  14. This was so beautiful. I cried. Youdid an amazing job at capturing the day...all of it, even the parts in your heart. I'm so thankful Finn could share his heart so honestly with you. Thinking of you!

  15. I have both my folks today but deep within my gut you've pulled out my biggest fear from childhood. What will it be like when they're not there...in the simple times.

    Loving you and hugging you from here.

  16. My dad passed away 5 weeks ago. I really miss him even though Alzheimer's took him away from us about 10 years ago. Best wishes.