Dad, it is 5:30 in the morning on the fourth Thursday since you died. In the tradition of the Tibetans, I do these things for you:
I make my bed just right, smoothing the covers as you would, piling up all the pillows that I inherited from you; more pillows than I can possibly use. In fact, my chiropractor recommends I use only a rolled towel under my neck, so all these pillows are a moot point. Still, I keep them for you because they were yours.
I drink this coffee steeped with cinnamon for you. I get down on the floor and do my back stretches to keep my spine healthy. You had many problems with your spine, and I am trying to learn from your difficulties. When I sit, I sit straight.
I defrost a bagel that I rescued from the freezer at your old apartment. When I finish writing this, I will toast the bagel in the toaster I bought for you at Kohl’s. We barely got to use it before you had to go. I will eat this bagel with raspberry jam that was in your fridge. It is an onion bagel (what else?) but I will put jam on it anyway. Savory and sweet works for me, as it always worked for you.
I continue to walk through the maze of your boxes in my living room. I am sorting through your stuff for you. I find things there that are going to help me unravel matters of import to your legacy: appraisals of artwork, phone numbers of clients, letters from friends and associates, notifications of debts.
I dreamed about you last night. You were walking around the house with labored steps. Illia and I, your daughters, were trying to navigate a river. We kept running into sand bars and bridges and strange people trying to deter us from getting along. I will remember this dream in the days ahead as we take our next steps to preserve and promote all that you did for the world through your art.
I find scraps of paper with your handwriting. Your script so distinct, I would know it a mile away. On a notecard floating in a box I find: “Since we cannot change reality, let us change the eyes which see reality.”
What a good idea, Dad. Thank you for writing this down for me one day long ago. You attributed it to “Byzantine Mystic” so I googled the quote and found it to be Nikos Kazantzakis. As you know, this is the Greek writer who wrote Zorba the Greek, The Last Temptation of Christ, St. Francis, and more. I know he was one of your favorite writers and he shared your birthday, February 18. In the days ahead, I will go back to his writing, to see what you loved about him, to remember you.
In writing this, I see that for all the things I am doing for you, you are still doing things for me, and for that, I thank you.
It is getting late now and I should get showered and dressed. I will have another cup of cinnamon coffee and eat my toasted onion bagel with raspberry jam that you left for me. I do this for you, for me.
One thought on “Gifts on the Fourth Thursday”
“Lovely,” a word I should add to my active vocabulary, since–I’ve got a feeling–I’m going to be needing it more often in response to this blog.