The past indicative of “be.”
As of late, I have grown quite ill of this word. I am unable to utter it’s existence in a string of words to form the sentence, “My father w__ an incredible father figure.”
To use it means to give it power and life to the reality that an unforeseeable end has been met.
To let it pass my lips means to agree that the life of a man well-loved will no longer appear in the formation of new memories.
The weight of “was” is unbearably deafening.
I’d rather swallow a stone, for it already feels as such to let the word sit on my tongue.
Truth be told – there is no such thing as “was.”
Although someone may no longer be present in their flesh and bone their essence still rest within us. They are not lost, for they become amplified within our memory.
We finally see who they always are. There is no “was,” but always will be.Jennie L. R. Hayes
Despite the challenges faced by my family, and the many hardships we have endured due my to dad’s insufferable disease of alcohol addiction – I am unable to recover a single bad memory.
When I look back over the last 7 years of hospital visitations (or just 26 years of being a daughter) all I can muster to my frontal lobe are the conversations, the laughter, the hugs, the birthdays, the father’s days, the summer days, the holidays, and all the beautiful days in between.
Hardship allows for us to draw closer to the familial ties that bond us – if we allow it.
Hardship can easily cause a blackened stain of regret – a disease of unwavering rage and hatred toward the last few years of a person’s physical existence. But, it doesn’t have to be that way. Because, I want to stay in the “is” and not the “was.”
We have to remember the beauty of recognizing the core of someone’s “is.” Not the result of hardship and pain. What do we remember as the core of the person we love? What defines them and makes them who they are?
Who really “is” this person?
Who my dad naturally is, is amplified in my mind. He is not lost and he does not lose the qualities that define him.
He IS what I see.
He IS what I feel.
He IS my dad and that does not change. Therefore, “was” is not a word to be used.
Because now, he is solidified in existence as the man I will never forget – forever etched in my memory.
No one has to tell me, or remind me, that my dad w__ a good man.
My dad IS a good man.
And I will always love him.
I love you. I hate to say this, but i’m selfish. If I had a magic lamp I would wish you back into existence. But, not the shell you were living in.
I know you were in pain. I know you were suffering. I wish I could have taken it away. But, please know, I never saw you as weak. I never saw you as “less than.” I never looked at you differently because of your struggle.
I saw you. All of you. The whole you. The beautiful you.
We all did.
My love for you is blinding. I did not see you in your hospital bed. I did not see your drunken days. I did not see your broken and cracked skin. I saw your struggle. I saw your pain. I saw your misery. I saw how much you desperately wanted to alter the reality you lived in, but had to hide the pain behind the treacherous golden waterfall.
I was never afraid to touch you. I always wanted to be close to you. I never let go. I still can’t and I won’t.
I’m not Rose. If the ship were to sink then my grip only tightened. Although you saw some distance between us I can promise you that I lived on a life boat ready to paddle back to you whenever you needed me.
My love for you is stronger than it ever has been, and it will only grow stronger as I tell our stories to the grandchildren you so desperately wanted.
The memory of you will never fade. You have left yourself, in pieces, among us as details of the lineage we will carry forward.
I see you in Sarah’s eyes – deep green and wide.
I see you in Kellie’s personality – temper and all.
I see you on the surface of the lake – your presence thick as our nostrils breathe in sunlight, air, and peace that only the calmness of a still lake can bring.
I see you in the gardens you have planted in the back yard. The love you had for farming and growing your own food sparked a new passion inside me.
I smell you at every mechanic shop – grease, motor oil, and dirt. It smells like you – an honest, humbling, and laborious earning.
I hear you through the lips of friends and strangers who share the memories of you. I learn more and more about you through people I have never met. And, I love it.
Regardless of where we are today, I am surprised by the community you had that you may not have realized. It’s so big. You were so loved. You had so many in your corner. You still do.
And, we love you. We can’t wait to see you again.
My greatest lesson from this experience is this:
I understand it now. When I was young I never understood why people thought living to 100 was so bad. I thought, “Man, life is beautiful, I want to live to 120! I want to live the longest.”
I now disagree.
Life is made up of the people you call home – people you love and cherish. As they slowly pass on, and into heaven, you wish to be with them. It’s difficult to replace those relationships (you can’t), and their loss leaves a longing in you to see them again.
When my time comes I want to be able to run to Christ, run to YOU, run to Memaw, and run to Pappy. To move on and see them again. Life on earth is not to be lived out for lengthy periods of time. The pain of loss is too much to bear, and the need to reunite grows stronger with every passing day.
I am so happy you finally get to see your mom again. I am so happy that you finally get to meet your dad. I am so happy you finally get to meet our little brother/little sister. I am so happy you get to reunite with your first love that you lost so long ago.
Although my time is not yet here I understand now that I will embrace it. I will happily run to my place in heaven knowing that our family reunion awaits my return.
I will love you forever and always, dad. No one will ever rob me of that.
Jennie Laureen ROBINSON Hayes