This is the week my dad died two years ago. He went to sleep when the world was waking up. Three weeks later, when every green thing was sprouting and every creature came to life, my brother died too. Spring became my season of loss. The stretching sun of the longer days was liminal, like a bridge between here and wherever people go.
I spent hours during that first month of grief ripping a dense patch of pachysandra from our garden, a futile and strenuous effort to yield some control over the total chaos of my world. The dirt on my hands was the only thing keeping me on Earth in those moments. The color was over-saturated on every beautiful thing about the changing season; I was eviscerated by it. I was afraid I would never love spring again.
It was a blessing last April to be so sleep deprived with six month old twins. I don’t remember the days growing lighter and then resolving into summer. I only recall a small but nagging panic as the year mark approached: the anniversary of one death and then another. And I was surprised by the relief that came when the calendar turned over.
Spring is back and the threshold between the worlds feels thin again. This week death has been close. A dear friend had a heart attack that could have taken her life. A friend of the family died while bringing her twins into the world. I woke up from a sleep this morning where I was back in my grandparents house, the place that defined the first half of my life. My children were there with the great-grandmother they’ll never meet. My dad was there too, the grandfather they’ll never know.
The threads that hold us in this lifetime are so delicate and precious. Maybe they are more delicate and precious in the spring.
My dad was diagnosed with a cancer that left only days or weeks for us to fix a relationship that was broken because I am gay and he was a Christian. But the sadness from our separation is not what remains. The bliss of singing Motown with him when I was young, full volume, from the backseat of the car is what I feel most clearly. He gave me music and a voice to love it with.
On the day he died, he gave me one more gift that I hold dear. I drove to Boston to share the sad news with my brother and look after him in his grief — I didn’t know it then, but it would be the last day we’d spend together before he died in May.
This week, I drove my three year-old home from school with her friend. They asked me to put on songs from Moana. We rolled down the windows and the air was warm. We sang together like I did on so many trips driving north with my father and brother. I am grateful for what endures.