There was a time I wouldn’t have said I was lost in a fog. Mostly because I didn’t want to admit it. My eyes are bleary and I can’t see more than 3 feet in front of me. I am surrounded by dark and a cliff is dangerously near, but I’m trudging forward, one step at a time.
This year I turned 35. I keep thinking that I would/should/could have done more by now. I keep thinking that I’m not satisfied with my progress. But then, the fog sort of keeps me grounded. There’s no looking forward, no looking back.
I miss my dad. I miss the dad he should have been, I miss the dad he was. The dad he was would spend time just talking to me. Just drinking coffee with me on the back porch. I would sit there, basking in his attention. I am not a morning person, but I would wake up early sometimes just to listen to him playing the guitar softly in the kitchen.
For all his faults (and mine – no one is perfect), I want more than anything to make my daddy proud. I want to know that he approves of me. And I’ve done that thing that pushes us separate and makes approval almost impossible. I have challenged everything in his path. I have challenged the answers. I have shouted at the sun. I have gone off-roading and disappeared down the mountain. I have not been what he wanted in a daughter.
I thought that when I hit this “middle age” time, I would figure out what they never tell you. I guess I thought I would know the truth. The man behind the curtain is fear and I thought when I hit middle age, I would see him for what he was… but instead I find myself nowhere near the curtain with no man in sight.
My daddy prayed for me every night. I remember feeling his fingertips calloused from finger-picking… and the weight of his hand when he would come and pray for me. He would pray for good dreams, for my destiny, for my hope and peace. I wish I felt him pray for me now sometimes.
Last week, I was helping my ninety year old granny from the bed to the toilet. I was holding weak arms and supporting body weight with my own. I was holding a fragile hand shaking. She doesn’t look right at me now because she’s mostly blind. But she speaks to me and asks me when my mom will come back to help her. My mind fast forwards to when my own mom is the old lady in the bed next to me… and I wonder how that will feel. I imagine it will feel something like this.
My daddy has the shakes too bad to play guitar for long. His hands are on my arms now, I see them everyday. The lanky fingers, the joints that stand out under skin: I never liked them on me.
I was thinking of him this weekend, wishing I could talk to him. Wishing that safe place I imagined he held once existed. He texted me out of the blue… I tend to think it was because my longing reached him through my fog. If I can’t see, I know there are others who can. I wonder if he’s in his own fog or if he’s seeing clearly these days.
Wake up, Joni. Put your shoes on. Walk with me into this life. Another night has gone, life goes on, another dawn is breaking. Turn and face the sun, one by one, the world outside is waking. Morning light has driven away all the shadows that hide your way. And night has given way to the promise of another day… another day. Another chance that we may finally find our way. Another day. The sun has begun to melt all our fear away. Another day. (James Taylor, “Another Day”)