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Mourning Pieces (I)

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Jan. 30th, 2012 | 08:30 pm

I don’t take many pictures anymore. Coming home, I make Top Ten lists in my notebook (because “journal” sounds pretentious and wouldn’t have quite so many money tallies and the writing would be better, maybe something that would be read by people studying famous, dead me). Macedonia—Fornetti pastries, the Albanian tea shop, the day we hiked to the cross on the mountain. Monaco—fireworks, walking in the jet-lagged sunrise, the Japanese garden. When I got the news, I started a new list: Top Ten Things About My Dad.

1) On Christmas morning, we always stuck a bow on his head.

2) When the ladies from the church I hid behind brought me back from “running away”, he threw the car keys down so hard they chipped the tile.

3) Kneeling on top of me on the kitchen floor and I can’t remember why we were physically fighting or if that was the time my parents committed me for threatening to kill him and I might have been holding a knife at the time but I don’t know why I think that, I can’t feel it in my hand in the memory.

4) Telling me at my sister’s funeral, “If that had been you, that woulda killed me.”

5) Wait, this is not the list I’m trying to make.

I try to remember things my dad said, and come up with him saying to my mother, “I pay the bills around here, I can do what I want,” and to me, “Why are you so goddamn selfish?”

I tear the list into tiny pieces, then, weeping, tape it back together on another page.

Mourning Pieces II
Mourning Pieces III
Mourning Pieces IV
Mourning Pieces V

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Comments {9}

A Karmic Sandbox

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from: karmasoup
date: Jan. 31st, 2012 07:34 pm (UTC)
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My dad always wears bows on his head at Christmas, too. It's hard to make sense of the memories when they come flooding in, to line them up and put them in an order that feels functional.

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whipchick

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from: whipchick
date: Feb. 6th, 2012 02:10 am (UTC)
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I'm glad your dad wears bows - it's nice to know it's still out there :)

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dblicher

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from: dblicher
date: Jan. 31st, 2012 08:34 pm (UTC)
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I think this is my favorite of the five pieces, revealing as it does you, your dad, and your larger relationship. Of course, I am devastated by the others, too.

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whipchick

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from: whipchick
date: Feb. 6th, 2012 02:11 am (UTC)
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Thanks :) I'm glad I know my Dad loved and respected me, and I'm glad the last thing I said when i saw him last was "I love you."

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jacq22

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from: jacq22
date: Feb. 1st, 2012 12:03 pm (UTC)
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All those mixtures of emotions. Great sadness, a difficult relationship, and defining such a complex childhood is hard. Your Dad didn't fit the expected mould. A haunting collection to read and so beautifully written.

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whipchick

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from: whipchick
date: Feb. 6th, 2012 02:11 am (UTC)
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Thank you - and thanks for being part of my mourning process :)

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Andrea Blythe

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from: blythe025
date: Feb. 2nd, 2012 12:27 am (UTC)
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I like the concept of a list began and failed here, and the tearing it up and pasting it together, which is a vivid expression of your emotions at the time. And I can totally understand how we can remember all the bad things and yet still mourn the person. Recently my dad has becoming less like the man I remember him to be and there are some bad moments I would like to forget in place of the good times that are also there.

The one thing I have to suggest is that you don't need the aside about journal vs notebook. Because it's labeled as "I", it is the emotional entry into the whole, whether or not the readers actually read it first. The aside about the journal creates an emotional distance, rather than drawing the reader in. It causes us to pause and wait before getting to the core of it.

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whipchick

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from: whipchick
date: Feb. 6th, 2012 02:12 am (UTC)
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Thanks - that's a good note!

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The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors

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from: halfshellvenus
date: Feb. 2nd, 2012 06:51 pm (UTC)
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This is the most striking of the entries to me, though I loved them all.

The disjointedness, the conflict of sentiment and anger and disorientation, represent grief so well.

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