the status of things, part two

Posted: October 10, 2019 by Rachel

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.

the status of things, part one

Posted: October 5, 2019

This morning I waited until the boys left, until I heard the car start up and pull away, and then I lit my favorite candle and made a second cup of coffee. My laptop sat open and ready on the kitchen table, the first time I’d even looked at it in weeks. The house was blissfully silent. I’d prepared myself for this, written in my journal just yesterday that this morning would afford me the perfect block of free time to finally sit down and work my way through everything the only way I really know how: by writing it…

This I can Control

Posted: October 1, 2019

I have this habit of making things more complicated than they need to be. I could give you countless examples, some much more personal than others, but I will use this one: I make the process of selecting a new journal almost torturous. To begin, I’m picky. The paper can’t be too slippery because then the pen moves too freely and my writing becomes illegible. It can’t be too heavy because I often carry it along with me in my purse. It can’t be too large for the reasoning just stated. It needs to be easy to write in, which…

This Post has no Discernible Theme

Posted: September 15, 2019

I sat staring at the blank screen for more than a few minutes this morning. Clicked over to a couple blogs I enjoy. Took another sip of my near-cold coffee. Stared down at my slightly chipped manicure. Writing—the act of it, the thought of it—feels so different this year. I hadn’t realized until she was gone that so much of what I wrote was done in the hopes of pleasing my mother. I wanted to write something she would be proud of. Now, I write almost nothing at all. What I do is read. Even more than I did before….

summer break is over

and just like that… summer break is over

Posted: August 12, 2019

This morning my son walked into his first day of the first grade which means, among many other things including time moving far too quickly, that summer break is over. There’s so much hope in the beginning, isn’t there? The warm weather, the sun, the long days: it all leads you to believe that summer will be magic. There will be popsicles and lie-ins and dips in the pool and, if you’re lucky, trips to the beach. But this summer break felt like a tease. There was the promise of a break. Of slower, gentler times. I allowed myself to…

35 Years

Posted: June 7, 2019

Today, June 7th, 2019, is my 35th birthday. I’m writing from a chair on the back deck of my parent’s house in Ontario, Canada. The weather is much like what it was two weeks ago back in Las Vegas: mid-70s. It’s glorious. It’s strange to be back here so soon. We left only six weeks ago, a few days after my mother’s funeral. Yet here I am, celebrating a birthday in my childhood home thousands of miles away from my husband, without my mom. I woke up much too early this morning feeling groggy and unsure what time zone my…

The Season Ahead

Posted: June 3, 2019

Despite time moving more slowly than ever—and feeling entirely different since my mother’s death—it’s June somehow. I shake my head every time I’m reminded of this fact. The end of the school year has come and gone; my son is no longer a kindergartener. That alone makes me feel nostalgic, emotional, and a few others things.  I have a tendency of retreating into myself when things get hard, and Things. Are. Hard. But I don’t want to do that this time. My mom would hate it—she would hate to know how much I’ve shut friends and family out already. If…

Some Thoughts on Gratitude

Posted: May 31, 2019

I woke up Wednesday morning with a deep sense of exhaustion in my bones and had only one thought beyond wishing I could go back to sleep: That I would be grateful for this day I’ve been granted. I closed my eyes and listened to the birds outside the window, the kind of quiet coming from my son’s bedroom that could only mean he was still asleep, the soft breathing of my husband in bed next to me. I slipped out of bed and tugged on a housecoat over my nightgown. I was on a mission for coffee; if I…

A New Chapter

Posted: May 28, 2019

I don’t notice the color of my therapist’s new office during my first visit, but looking back on it now, I imagine it to be an unimaginative shade of beige. Beige is boring. And entirely expected. I can, however, recall the way her dark hair was pulled away from her face, and her kind eyes. I wonder if that’s a prerequisite to becoming a therapist; those eyes. The kind that can coax anything from you—the truth, perhaps. Certainly everything else, too.

on losing a mother

she always knew when enough was enough

Posted: May 5, 2019

not many people can tell you what you’re in forwhen you lose a parent suddenly.i’m glad that’s the case, but good godit would be nice to talk to someone my agewho understands what it feels like. my mom died seventeen days ago.we’d been by her side for days, weeks, all of us—sisters, aunts, nieces, nephews, granddaughters,brothers, daughters, husband, friends—but she waited until i stepped out for a moment,when she could be alone with my dad,to take her last breath. i sat back in a tiny, uncomfortable chair,pulled my legs tight against me and wept.i’ve never felt more alone than in…