How to Hold On When a Loved One is Gone

I rarely admit it but I miss a lot of people who are inappropriate to miss.

Math, for example, across the country and likely drunk on wine and cheese, coding a personal calendar app running on his smartass mouth.

Or British David, who’d swing his laundry bag like a tennis racquet while I perched on the stone ledge, and we’d chat into the sweltering night in Hong Kong. Or even Dave from Dubai, who’d bartered for a t-shirt for me, at the markets with the lady who’d slapped his bicep; he was strangely calming. Or charming.

Anyways, once I start thinking about it, I can come up with a whole slew of people I miss and only causing myself trouble. When am I seeing these people again, really?

My dad would describe bartending in Toronto, young and carefree, sneaking sips before his shift. Rising in the then-young field of tech, weekends consisted of movies and basketball with his friends until dark.

What I am thinking of lately is that my dad couldn’t sing at all, but he would listen to my piano practices. I would come across sheet music he’d copied for me and my heart would skip a bit.

Out of hundreds of pieces on the shelf, I’ve always returned to these favourites from all those years ago.

I remember my dad figuring out how to print the strange files, with his must-do attitude that always turns into can-do; our hack was taking screenshots of the pages and printing those.

I catch myself staring into the sunset wondering what he is doing up there.

Minutes pass and I notice the tall man by the window who stares back at me, wearing a slim-fit leather jacket with a messenger bag slung over his shoulder, like the one my dad carried all those years ago.

He is here, somewhere. I would love so much to give him a hug. It hurts, but I miss him. I also miss other people whom I can’t see right now.

Today, I’d like you to hug someone you love — and let them end it.

Because life goes on: day, by day, by day. And you just never know what life might bring in the future, but at least you can enjoy the moments you have together, right now.

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  • Jonathon Campbell February 4, 2016 at 12:33 pm

    Grace, hang in there. My father died unexpectedly five years ago and it still hurts. I can remember being lost for months, not eating or sleeping. For me the only way I could quiet my mind was through hours of practicing. There is no right way to grieve. It takes a long time. You can be fine for weeks and then it sneaks up on you like it just happened. I don’t have advice per se but a few things were helpful. One was “The Year of Magical Thinking” by Joan Didion. It’s a book about the unexpected loss of her husband. The other was Roseanne Cash’s album, “Black Cadillac” about the loss of her mother and father. Both of these were very comforting to me in a time of darkness and confusion. Take care of yourself, that’s the most important thing. It’s ok to take a break from social media, it will be there if and when you choose to come back to it. Hang in there. I am so sorry for your loss.

    • Grace Lam February 4, 2016 at 4:05 pm

      Jonathon, thank you so much for your encouraging words. I’ll take a look at both of those. I’m finding that Air Supply’s All out of Love is quite soothing (but quite depressing at times).