My hope for his survival hid behind my knowing of his death like a knight shielded behind a Great Wall. Clutching his truth like the shiny sword that he carried for the battle. Gripped tightly like the cold steel doorknob on his hospital door. The stench of death on the battlefield. And the war almost over. He lay there defeated. And I stand over him. All hope lost for my soon to be fallen comrad. My dad. My pop. Later he would be no longer be and I, the would be knight would quiver behind the Great Wall. Protected only by the thought that the war has finished. And the suffering be over. For him.
My Papa went to heaven a week ago today. Before anyone chooses to question whether I truly believe that, the answer is yes! I am and always will be a daddy’s girl. My fondest memories are walking across parking lots holding his hand at the ages of 5 or 6 or long talks about life for hours on the phone at age 25 or 26.
My father had a series of illness and disease in his life but the latest being cancer. He lived about exactly one year past his diagnosis of stage 4. But I’m not here to talk about that. I would much rather run off a list of things I have to reconsider in my life now that he is gone. I accept his death and I accept the grief that is to come with it. What I am having trouble coming to terms with are the simple things.
I often told myself that when I brought my first house it had to have private parking or an immense amount of parking on the block. I knew how protective my father was of his car and if he couldn’t see if from the door or top floor window he may not have come visit me often. Now, he’s gone and I have no idea what I’ll look for in a house.
I used to fantasize about having children and smiling at the fact that he would of course, as the head of our family recite the ATHAN in the ears of my children after birth. Now, I can hardly picture myself having children.
Some of the simple things I think about now that he’s gone become even more far fetched. I hated the strong aroma of the massive amount of Muslim oils that he would splash across his beard, face, and neck. Now, I want to visit my mother’s house and take them all with me. I want to smell him each day I wake and sleep.
I know that all of these things are a part of my grieving process but I find them somewhat humorous. Not realizing at the time when these thoughts were created just how crazy I was and am about him. I think about the accomplishments that I will have and the ones that I won’t. And my brain becomes tangled and puzzled. I have grown accustomed to having two people celebrate for me or two people tell me that a better try is yet to come. Those two people being my mother and father. Now, I question whether or not I will truly learn to celebrate without him.
I had a dream about him last night. I knew that it was him even though his figure was dark and shadowy. He was there and it was clear to me.
At this point I am a wandering child looking for my father’s image in every waking moment, every phrase, every tv show and all things in my daily life. I do miss my Papa dearly. But, I am proud of the man he was. I am proud of the person he helped me become.
To Papa Haqq himself: I know you see me. I know you will read this. You were always the first to read my post and tell me how good my writing is. People are surprised at how quickly I went back to work. Or how much I’m not crying. That’s because I’m too busy smiling at the great memories you’ve given me. I love you.
I used to be daddy’s little girl. Sometimes I like to think that I still am. That if need be he’d drop all that was important at the chance to rescue me. His little baby girl. The youngest of all his children and the splitting image of his soft brown skin and once thick head of hair.
I have taught… Well rather listened to many lessons, stories and lectures.
I am what happens if these walls could talk.
I’ve felt the bended knees of sad children.
I have felt the bended knees of sorry children.
I have heard the talks of a mother
“What’s wrong my child?”
Cluttered with shoes and books and magazines.
Lane Bryant and JC Penny.
I have housed house robes and bedroom slippers.
I have kept my patience when the light flickers.
Inhaled cigarette smoke and inherited the most comfy of chairs.
There are days with worry
“What will become of these kids.”
I’ve witnessed trip slip signings
“Please can I go?”
And below average test signatures
“It’s not my fault!”
Same painted wall and same old carpet.
Now stained with memories of orange juice from Mother’s Day breakfast.
Tossed in with some Campbell’s soup for the soul.
Still warming toes on winter mornings.
I sing the song ‘dear mama’ in Mama’s corner.