Tonight I stand by your grave. The grass grows up around you, but I hardly know you are here. If it wasn’t for the engraved name on this sandstone, orange marker, I wouldn’t know it was you, Dad.
No, you are not here, contained in the earth, suffocated beneath its entangled roots, buried forever. You are not hidden by the grass or caught beneath the stone. You have taken flight and alighted on the wings of dawn…
The lake across the road shimmers in the sun’s rays and reminds me how much you loved the water. You always wanted to be on the lake. Now as a white bird swoops down to the water’s surface, so you appear in my life when I most need you.
Your face is in the sun, shining warm upon me. Yes, when the day sings out its glory, I feel you. At evening’s wake, when the sun sets amidst a fire of purple and pink hues, you are looking out and watching the show with me – just as you used to do, twenty years ago. You used to stand with mom and bask in nature’s beauty around you.
No more tears. No more tears.
Every summer, on the car ride to Upper Michigan, where you grew up as a child, we’d listen to the songs of your favorite songwriter, Harry Chapin. Even today, your voice still speaks to me through the lyrics. You’re teaching me the song:
All my life’s a circle,
Sunrise and sundown,
The moon rose through the nighttime
Till the day break comes around. (Harry Chapin)
That’s why I owe this medley of love to you. You’ve rescued me a hundred times more than I know of.
I was at college my first year and so terribly homesick. It was then I realized that you were the closest family to me. And no matter where I would travel - to the heights of the Alps or to the island of Sicily – Dad, your spirit would find me there. Wherever I’d go in life, you’d be with me, closer to my aid than the nearest family. Thanks, Dad. You’ve been with me, though I can’t see you.
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun rising
It’s alright. (Here Comes the Sun, Beatles)
Dad left me with many songs to make sure I’d never feel forsaken. He reminds me how much he wants to be here for me, even as I explore my independence. Like a father watching his growing daughter push away, he sings:
I’m a tangled up puppet
All hanging in your strings
I’m a butterfly in a spider’s web
Fluttering my wings… (Chapin)
Young women need not leave their fathers behind as they adventure forward. Dad, I need you.
Now you write your secret poems
In a world just for your dreams
You don’t find time to talk to me
About the things you need. (Chapin)
You’ve provided for me in my schooling, guided me in relationships, pursued me with love, taken care of me financially. Though you are sorely missed, your heavenly intercession has carried me through. Look Dad, I want to make you proud.
I have watched you take shape
From a jumble of parts
And find the grace and form
Of a fine work of art.
Hey you, my brand new woman,
You may come into your own.
Don’t you know that you don’t need
To grow up all alone? (Chapin)
“You’re right,” murmured Grandma to my mother, as they stood beside the grave that April of 1990. “He’s not here. He’s with you.”