Tuesday, July 14, 2009

He's still here.

There is a saying "To speak the name of the dead is to make them live again" and it was just that, along with bubbly Lily, that pulled me through July 5th. I can't say that the day was much more difficult than those that I have lived through during the last year, but it was a milestone - and the idea that Alan is no longer here, continues to be jarring for me. But knowing that so many friends were thinking of Alan, just as I was on "that day" made the occasion achingly beautiful. One friend relived a guitar jam session he and Alan had shared one summer evening a couple of years ago, and I received many messages leading up to Sunday and throughout the day that all contained the words "thinking of Alan". Those messages meant the world to me. It reminds me not only of how he touched so many others with his presence but also that I am not alone in feeling the loss. As time passes I fear that my memories of Alan will feel distant and begin to blur and it is a terrifying feeling. I don't want to forget a single thing about him and I want Lily to be able to grab on to tangible elements that defined Alan's character - I don't want her to imagine him as a compilation of generalities - I want him to be defined. I want his image to be dimensional, I want Lily to know him as best she can, so that she can feel a connection to him, and understand how much of him she possesses within her own being. It is important to me that she does not feel as though she is "without" a father. Surely she'll struggle, longing for his physical presence, and I mourn for the loss she has yet to realize, but daily I imagine ways in which I can make him real for her. On Sunday I was comforted knowing that others will do the same.

Shortly after Alan passed away, a friend asked me to "please let her know ways in which she could be of comfort to me - whether it be talking of Alan frequently, not talking about him at all - whatever might help ease the pain", and I was so appreciative of her ability to acknowledge her unfamiliarity with the territory and her openness to learn from what I was enduring. I love talking about Alan, I cling to memories others have of him, I hang on to dreams I hear of in which he has appeared. Some widows and widowers have to remove all photos of their loved ones, can't bear to look at images from a past once shared and I do understand that - but I am of the opposite camp; yes the reminders bring heartache each and every time, and just this evening I wept inside as I heard a friend speak of Alan, but it is those very words that keep him vibrant and alive. There is a family that lives down the hall on our floor, and whenever Alan used to hear their toddler girl running and squealing on her way to the elevator he'd smile and exclaim "It's Hannah - let's take the garbage out so we can see her" . He loved children, and I always wanted to tell her parents how much joy he found in her little life as she flitted past us in random moments - but it seems awkward and it's so emotional for me that I haven't. But just the other day after passing her in the hall - father and brother trailing behind her to the elevator - I heard her say in her loud whisper as we entered the stairwell, laundry dragging behind us, "There's the baby! I love that baby - ". It made me laugh and smile and cry. To me that was a line meant for Alan, and to me her words brought him alive yet again.

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