It should be no surprise that I’ve returned to grief this week. My father died the day before Memorial Day and it’s now Labor Day. The first season he’s missed has passed. I am back at work and doing the same kind of work, having the very same conversations with students that I was having in the weeks he was sick and right after he passed. The repetition isn’t comforting; it reminds me that teaching can too often be like treading water. It reminds me that the rituals of life, as powerful as they are in marking time, can become ciphers for progress.
The light is low, too; marking summer’s slip into the melancholy of night.
Mike wrote of missing his father while taking a class his father would have enjoyed. It’s a moving elegy that connects a sense of loss with the physical world, with an absent relationship. I find that my grief is different from this. I am not grieving the experience of a person I’ve lost, but rather the missed opportunity of knowing my father. This sense of loss is fluid and seeps into other places of regret, into other relationships that will never be met. It reminds me that my preoccupations are so often connected to missed opportunity, connection, and experience of being.
There is a lesson in this.