Yesterday in a round about way I made my family cry. Not my husband and child but my brothers, cousins, aunts, uncles, my mom. Meanwhile I was experiencing the kind of joy that is life giving. My dad is dead, he has been for sometime now, this is not new but this is why people were crying. I was just barely an adult when he died after a battle with a long illness. Most of my childhood he could not live with us because of his medical issues, he lived in nursing home facilities. When he died there wasn't much of his "stuff" left. There are very few earthly possessions that were actually his, that he wore or chose before the long illness. For about ten years now hanging in a closet where ever I happened to live was his leather racing jacket. Recently, my brother, his namesake, quietly got married. I wanted to send him a wedding gift but couldn't think of what to send. Then I learned his spouse also rides motorcycles like my brother and it just so happens she took his name. One day I pulled out that motorcycle racing jacket and looked at my pre-hyphenated name on it and I knew it did not belong with me anymore.
My husband and I started cleaning and polishing it, not quite to new but made it look decent. Then we mailed it off and ordered a shadow box to hold it and had it delivered to their house. Yesterday I had a text message with a photo of it all put together and it gave me so much JOY. When I packed up the jacket I cried a little because I imagined this jacket touching his body, long gone. I imagined him picking it out, his humor, his races, or how it appears the M was first sewn on as a W and how he would have responded to that. With a few tears I sent it off to it's new home, where it has always belonged. A little while after I received the text message I had a facebook notification that I had been taggged in a photo, it was my brother thanking me for sending it and a picture of the final product. It looked amazing in the shadow box with a photo added. I was very happy to see it. The nature of facebook is that other people see what we post. Person after person who misses my dad posted how they were crying.
That is what I want to write about today, my dad has been gone since 1999, he was 50 when he died. That seemed old then but now it is not that far in my future. He wouldn't even be 70 yet. His death was tragic and it will always be tragic. It will always be that event that shaped those of us who loved him. I believe that yesterday we all longed for him so because his jacket made us remember him, our grief for him, and that very tragedy that took him from us. All these years later it doesn't make sense, it doesn't feel any better, we still miss him in our lives, and I am probably not the only one who wonders, what if Agent Orange wasn't a thing? Yet it is a thing and that thing altered forever so many lives in ways we will never comprehend beyond the pain of grief.
My mom made the comment, "Leave it to Beck to make everyone cry." She has a point, I do kind of have a reputation for making my family cry in the face of grief or tragedy, because this loss isn't the only one we have faced together. I am really rather terrible at dealing with my own emotions but I am good at naming what we would all rather ignore because it is too painful to speak. Today that is the tragic loss of a good man far too soon for reasons that will never make sense. My dad died, it was and is tragic and it always will be. Therefore there will always be a little sting for us when we are reminded of what should have been.
Today I am grateful for the joy and the tears and the life no matter how short it was cut.