February 24, 2009

Fishing in the Mountaints camera.gif

One of the many Ray notes I have, this one still stuck inside a kitchen cabinet, is a postcard he sent us from a fishing trip. In his Ray-spelling he wrote “Hi My Love I hope your having a good time, I’m fishing in the mountaints & look forward to sharing this spot with you both. We’ll have a great time sailing on Sat. LOVE you. Rose – don’t forget your life vest, its in the garage hanging on the drawrs.” He drew us a picture: a stick figure fisherman Ray, with a very big fish at the end of his line. Over his head is a thought bubble of three little stick figures, holding hands.

Sometimes I like to think that’s where he is, fishing in the “mountaints,” thinking of us.

How can it be five years? How can he be gone?

Rose is 9 now. This birthday was so hard for me, one of the hardest ‘milestones’ we’ve faced together. To know that from that point on, and more so every day, she has lived more days without him than she had days with her beloved daddy. That’s so wrong.

I wonder sometimes if I push remembering him too much. But I ask her, and she says I don’t. Mostly it’s those offhand, little things, that strike me – like this weekend, the way she always makes her special French toast is his way. They loved to cook together. She likes to be reminded. She sometimes will remind me, or tell me something I didn’t know, about him and their time together. Mostly she’ll do that when I tell her it’s ok if she can’t remember very much. Even I forget sometimes, the entirety of him. It’s those sharp, deep fragments that make up my remembering now. But there is no option for me but to remember, he was my Ray.

We went to Yosemite last weekend, our annual gathering. It was spectacular, more snow than I’ve ever seen, so much fun. When we were on our way home she was happily telling me how lucky we were: so lucky to have the cabin to go to, so lucky to have such a great family, to have so many fun things to do together – sledding, ice skating, the snow ramp Uncle Blaise & Uncle James made on the back porch. I added how lucky she was to have such wonderful uncles, who do things with her that her daddy would have done. And she said, wonderingly, “he would have?” It killed me. How can she not know? I know that’s unfair, but it hurts.

I don’t mean in any way to take away from our wonderful life, how lucky we are, the many friends and family that we have who love us, who contribute to both of our lives. Or to take away from what a special person Rose is – believe me, she’s not just amazing because of how much she’s like Ray, she’s incredible in her own right. And I know her remembering and her knowledge of Ray is a deep and important part of her. But of course I want more.

I’ve just re-re-read through all the wonderful postings on this site, thank you. It’s good to remind myself that the stories, the little moments, the connections ARE good, are important, are part of what we all try to learn from Ray. It’s important to tell your loved ones that you love them. Rose knows that her daddy loved her, knows that she is a lucky girl to carry him inside her. In many ways she doesn’t need me to tell her these things. But then again, she does. We all do. We need the stories.

Rose and I are heading out today, another ritual, our annual runaway, to go where the ocean and sky are big enough to help get us through the horrible day. Just being there, just living, IS remembering.

Remember Ray. Tell someone you love them. Tell a Ray story.