May 16, 2013

Iced tea on a humid day

The weather has swung from a brief and chilly spring to borderline summer.  The air, heavy-laden with moisture, cleaves to my skin.  My mind drifts to other early summer days, when the weather was just like today, when the blanketing air was a good excuse to lie alone in the sun and set myself adrift in mourning.

A glass of iced tea, drops of condensation running down the side, takes me back to the end of high school.  I drank gallons of it, lying on a blanket in my grandma's front yard, reading Interpreter of Maladies and disappearing into stories of Indian immigrants.  Their memories and homesickness felt right to me, a longing to fit in in the midst of loss.

Sometimes I worry that I will forget.  A few days ago, I momentarily forgot the precise date we lost him--was it the 16th or the 17th? the 16th--and in a brief panic I took my mind there, reliving everything to reassure myself.  

I feel a need to mark this date every year, and yet at the same time, I worry that by commemorating the day, I dwell on it.  There is a certain selfishness in wallowing.  

Maybe instead, I should look at it as what it is: a chance to look back, to remember my father, to wish (as always) he was here to see me grow into an adult.  The sadness is less of a raw wound and more of an old bruise, faded and pale green, tender to firm touch but otherwise well-healed.  It's like the taste of iced tea in the back of my throat, cool and crisp and a little bitter.

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