When Dad died, I found it unfathomable that the world just went on. The breeze kept blowing, the birds kept singing, people kept crossing streets, and talking, and breathing. The minutiae of the universe continued, uninterrupted.
Didn’t they know my Dad was gone? That at 12:35 p.m. on February 7, 2020, everything changed? That my heart, the world, stopped?
In the days immediately following Dad’s death, I performed the functions of my life. I ate, slept, showered, did stuff, even accomplished things, important things. I walked, and worked, and talked, and arranged. I organized, and explained, and researched, and notified, and comforted. I experienced moments of searing pain and blinding clarity. But I also knew, at some point, I’d have to merge back into the traffic of my regular life. The thought terrified me. There was no regular life to which I could return. I couldn’t move toward a future that required me to leave my Dad behind.
Today, less than two months later, the world that had kept on going has, just as unfathomably, stopped. The Cornonavirus pandemic has closed schools and businesses, grounded planes, and emptied streets. Gyms, movie theaters, performances, gatherings, even coffee dates and hugs between friends, gone. The regular life to which I was afraid to return no longer exists. My grief, a droplet in an ocean of loss.
As I walk and work in my garden, I observe the unfolding of Spring and notice that only the human world is in disarray. The plants continue to respond to the sun and the soil, following their own internal instructions. The animals continue to gather in the branches and on rooftops, pursuing food, shelter, and mates. They have space. There is less noise.
In this terrible pause, I have space. There is less noise.
I have space to become familiar with this new life with and without my Dad. I close my eyes and see his face, his golden eyes, his strong arms and sturdy body.
There is less noise. I hear his voice, his laugh, and recall what he taught me. I begin to understand what a legacy really is.
I hear the birds, who keep singing.