Last week, my father started reading my blog.
A friend of his, after asking after me one day, had looked me up and come across my website. “How long have you had your blog?” my father asked me one night over the phone. It had come out of the blue and caught me off guard. I told him I’ve had a website, in one form or another, since the eighth grade. He didn’t say much else at the time, and I was too nervous to push for more.
The next time we spoke on the phone, he told me he’d been reading more. As usual, when the topic of my writing is brought up in conversation, I shied away from asking any questions.
“Your thoughts on your mother are beautiful,” he said. I swallowed hard, tried not to get emotional. The little I’d been writing in the last few months had mostly been about her. Writing has always been how I process my emotions, and lately, there are a lot of them.
“Thank you,” I said. We moved on to other topics.
My father has taken to texting me photos of the coffee shops he visits. Today’s coffee shop road tour. Eco Cafe in St. Jacobs, he writes. Back at Blackwing Cafe in old Galt again. Owned by the Smile Tiger Roasters people. He tells me what he loves about the decor, and what he tends to order. More often than not, he tells me when he last visited the same shop with my mother. Sometimes he can remember what she last ordered.
Lately, his texts include a selfie, an addition that gives me an immense thrill. We are 3,500 miles away from one another and have yet to figure out why we can’t connect through FaceTime so these selfies are the only glimpse I get of my father’s face. I save them all to my phone, look at them when I’m feeling homesick, which didn’t happen much until this year.
Despite being a daddy’s girl, my father and I didn’t really talk about my writing once I left Canada. It wasn’t that he lacked interest, it’s that my mother tended to dominate our conversations. I would dial their number, and if my father answered the phone I was lucky to get two minutes alone with him before my mom came on the line. My father was usually relegated to the background, catching what he could of our conversations, tossing in a single word of input when he could. If I wanted to speak to my father I needed to catch him home alone, which didn’t happen often.
Now, free to speak as much or as little as he pleases, he asks what I’m working on.
“Nothing. Nothing since April,” I tell him. We fall into a now common silence—we are thinking of her, my mother. This much I know is true. “It’s too hard.”
It’s too hard to focus, to let my mind go to that place again. I was writing for her, and now every sentence I write serves only to remind me of her absence. As time goes on one thing has become abundantly clear: that it is only with time and patience and grace that I will move past this, that I will learn to live with the discomfort, or, better yet, let that discomfort fuel me to create something my mother would have been proud of.
Something my father can be proud of. Something we can talk about together as much or as little as we wish.