Sunday, August 16, 2009

Like White on Rice

I'm always awake; the noise in my head is so fucking loud. New problems, old problems, solved problems: they're all game for some re-thinking. I'm still trying to figure out why I dated a boy/man who was five years older than me when I was in 9th grade. Five years of my life were completely devoted to him, and the next 25 had been sprinkled with thoughts of regret over why the hell I was so devoted to him.

My mind doesn't shut off. Little things, like how bad I'm going to feel in the morning when I have to leave my dog alone, to the larger things, like how I'm going to pay for school, consume me. These things sit in my head, heating up as the day progresses like kernels of corn sizzling in a pot of hot oil waiting to pop. And when my head hits the pillow at one or two in the morning, the popping is what keeps me awake until three.

There's so much discontent in my life, but even on the days when life is sitting well enough with me to a certain degree that I can actually start a task and carry it through to completion, I still don't feel any peace of mind. I often wonder why it is I can't put anything to rest. No matter how hard I try, nothing's ever dealt with and then forgotten; nothing ever has closure.

One particular relationship in my life barely had time to blossom before it was cut off; the person moved away, leaving a huge question mark what-iffing me to death for a long time, just like many other things before that and after. Friendships that I had thought sat on solid ground always seemed to end without warning or explanation, leaving me, again, faltering and wondering. But of course the biggest lack of closure, and the most significant one, was regarding who killed my father and why.

It's been almost 20 years since he's died and now that I, Thirty-Nine, am approaching Forty, I've come to accept he's not here, and have tried to reconcile his absence from mine and my children's lives. It's a difficult thing to attempt, but I never give up trying. After all, I have no choice. But even so, there will always be that desperate melancholy that permeates my soul when I see grandpas and grandchildren together.

Sixty-Seven called me up the other most shittiful day with Forty-Seven on the line. The two of them together meant something was a-brewin'. Apparently, they had just gotten off the phone with a psychic and needed to inform me of what had happened. Over the past 20 years, we have talked to psychics: some on the phone while they searched through old coffee grinds to "read" our fates, and others in person. Some seemed to say a few remarkably accurate things, while most just generalized. We've been to George Anderson, one of the first famous mediums to blast into the public eye claiming to communicate with the dead. My family read his books voraciously; they explained how he learned of his "gift" of communicating with dead people and how he couldn't be disproved. We suddenly had a tiny spark of hope: maybe there were people in this world who really might be able to help us communicate with our dad so that we could finally get some answers. Then we found John Edward. He, too, communicated with the dead. We read his books and watched his television show and even saw him in person. We still hoped for answers even when we weren't able to get them from either medium. But that day, two days ago, that awfully shitty day-in-the-life-of-Thirty-Nine, was somehow different.

Sixty-Seven: "This psychic told me I had a daughter with one child, and another daughter, my youngest, with two. She said the oldest grandchild has an attitude and a half and is a crack-up. He's also sometimes a prick."

We all laughed. Accurate enough.

Sixty-seven: "She then said my youngest daughter has a son who's sweet and mild-mannered."

Awwwws all around. My boy, Twelve.

Sixty-seven: "And listen to this."

I sensed something good, but never this good:

Sixty-seven: "She described Seven to a T. She's a princess and a yenta and a half. (laughter) She said Daddy can't get enough of her and he's with her all the time, protecting her. In her exact words, he's with her 'like white on rice.' He gets such a kick out of her because she reminds him of you as a little girl. He's always with her."

I cried the moment the words fell out of Sixty-seven's mouth. Just the thought that my dad was with my baby girl -protecting her, hovering around her- made me weak with relief. And belief. I never believed anything so much in my entire life and nobody will ever convince me otherwise.

Sixty-seven was flabbergasted as well. She said she was sure the first boy in the family, Fourteen, would be the focus of his dead grandfather's attention; never once did it cross her mind, or our's, for that matter, that Sassy Seven would have been the one Grandpa liked to hang around.

I wiped my eyes and fetched the now-burned chicken nuggets out of the toaster oven.

Thirty-Nine: "Here, Seven. Sorry they're burned."

I handed her the plate, phone still cradled on my shoulder. I couldn't help myself:

Thirty-Nine: "Hi dad."

Sixty-seven and Forty-seven laughed.

It was funny in a way, but serious in another. Funny that I addressed my dead father as I handed my daughter her lunch, yet serious in the way that now when I look at her, at her heavy-lidded eyes that we always joked were like her Grandpa's, I see my dad. Almost literally.

We were told by this psychic woman that my father is always with us, watching and protecting. We were told he loves my mother now more than he ever did. We were told that my father's father saw the gun and immediately came down and brought my father's soul quickly to heaven. We were told that his biggest regret is how he left us alone and in such a mess.

Sure, we might be gullible. But if someone told you after 20 years of whys, what ifs, and I wishes, that your daughter was being protected everyday by her grandpa, wouldn't you, too, believe?

It's the kind of closure I always dreamed of...

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