Walking down the hallway where the family portraits hang, I thought to myself, “We should take a new picture of Pop.” thinking that the one hanging doesn’t look right anymore – not how I remember him. It took two full steps before it came back to me: we can’t take a picture of him. He’s gone.
A year and a half after his death, the truth still strikes me at unexpected, unguarded moments. I think I’m coming to grips with this new relationship with him, which is somehow more distant and more intimate than it was before; but I haven’t, even now, quite found my footing yet.
The edge of grief has dulled. I think the frequent passage of my heart over its blade has softened the sharpness a little. Acceptance brings strength. It’s difficult to grapple with a thing in the dark. It must be brought into the light so it can be seen, and then dealt with.
I’ve been reading John Donne, and once again came across these words: Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind. It’s the ‘involved’ bit that comforts me. My dad was involved in mankind: me, his family, his friends, colleagues neighbours – he was connected to us. He wasn’t an island, in isolation and solitary. None of us is, no matter how small our life, or how quietly we live it.
That doesn’t change with death. We are still connected. Pop is still involved though the physics are different. Catholics understand this concept as the Communion of Saints. His involvement now takes the form of prayer and intercession rather than phone calls and teasing. But he still is who he was, and he’s still my Pop, and I’m still his daughter. We are still connected to each other.
No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.