Do not be so sweet that people will eat you up, nor so bitter that they will spit you out.
-Pashto folk saying
It’s been a great week, full of some damn exciting developments: I’ve purchased a brand new car and landied a hard-earned promotion at work, and yet I’ve had an awfully rough go of it all. That might not make much sense to some of you, but to those who have come to know loss and grief, it makes perfect sense, because you know that after suffering a life-changing loss of someone close to you, all good things become bittersweet rather than purely sweet. Let me explain.
A few weeks ago, my old Volvo wagon blew her tranny and is now going to the great Volvo lot in the sky. She served me well and kept me safe on the road for the last five years, and I was sad to see her go. I was pretty certain about what kind of car I would buy next, how it would all go down, and indeed the decision has essentially made itself. I considered and drove a few different cars, sought advice from several knowledgeable folks, and did a good deal of research on Consumer Reports. My big brother, Gabe, held my hand from 2,000 miles away and helped me through every single step of the process. In the end, I settled on a new 2013 Subaru Forester, with not many—but just enough—of the niceties to make me feel like I’ve gotten something pretty fancy-pants. I got a great car at a great price, and I cried the entire way through it.
For the last eleven years, I’ve spent my griefhood sharing every thought and emotion with my readers because I chose to write a book about my experiences. I say with great confidence that the decision to do that was most definitely worthwhile. And as I sat on the couch the other night, feeling weepy and overwhelmed by the stress of life these past few weeks, I knew that this was exactly the sort of thing I am supposed to write/blog about. Except this time, I just couldn’t let the world in.
Over the last eleven years, I’ve had to be brutally honest, and I’ve had to be very brave, and that has not always been easy for me. It certainly has not always been easy for my family. So I’m going to do something a bit different with this post.
Today, I’m just going to share this: My dad loved cars, and he loved the whole process of researching and shopping for new ones. He especially loved the art of the deal, and I know he would have cherished the experience of helping me through this endeavor. For everyone who has read A Real Emotional Girl, it’s all there in the book, and you know exactly what I’m talking about.
Here’s the thing: I can feel my father very close to me these days. I know that he knows how much I need him right now, how badly I wish he were here. I can sense him hanging around, sending signals and signs of his presence almost at every turn (every for the hardcore skeptic, these little omens absolutely smack of Dad’s signature style way too strongly to be cast aside as mere coincidence). Feeling my father’s energy nearby makes me feel simultaneously sadder and comforted. Funny mix, indeed.
Writing this memoir has been one hell of a ride in and of itself, and it’s far from over. I often hear from people who knew my father that reading the book has made them grieve for him, and miss him all over again; this has not been terribly surprising to me—my dad made a pretty big impact on everyone he met. What has surprised me, however, are all the people who’ve read the book and make a point of telling me that they too miss him, though they never had the chance to meet him while he was alive. That may yet be the greatest validation of my writing, and a most wonderful compliment.
I’m excited to go pick up my new car this weekend. It’s the same color as the car my father chose when he bought his own Subaru the year before he passed away. It’s the kind of symmetry that feels both wonderful and terribly sad, because though it’s another way for me to pay tribute to him, it also makes me miss him even more. It’s, you know, bittersweet.