Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Shifting Focus - A Caveat

I have been trying to finish a post on pop culture and genocide for almost a month now and constantly find myself struggling to form thoughts into coherent sentences. It is time, then, to move away from that for bit and focus on what I've been avoiding: thoughts of my parents. As the end of July brings the 2-year anniversary of my mother's death - and my father's, in a way, though of course that wouldn't happen for another 6 months - it seems only appropriate to spend a little time writing about them. I suppose the underlying theme is death, though not in the teenage macabre sense: what's running through my head as I attempt to sleep is more nostalgia than anything else. In order to calm those thoughts and fall asleep before 2am I will share them with you.

I am terrified of forgetting the sound of my parents' voices. Their smell is already fading from my memory in that I cannot close my eyes and just breath in, smelling them as though they were near; I need a physical reminder, like the Vicks Vapo-Rub Mom would put under her nose before bed to counteract the effects of 40 years of cigarettes or one of Seth's undershirts after a long day of work - the scent of man and labor. There are others: Clinique Happy, Mom's favorite perfume, or menthol cigarettes; black coffee for Dad. Yet memory without prompt is difficult. I concentrate so hard to remember the faintest whiff of something but am unsure if the scent that comes through is real or just a fabrication sunconsciously created to avoid falling into panic. I wonder if that's just how the olfactory sense is or have I failed somehow?

I won't allow their voices to fade away. Yelling, laughing, even heartbreaking sadness released as a whisper - I give myself time, if not every day, then every other to close my eyes and focus on those sounds.

On a different note: I have been waking up with the distinct feeling that I am lying in my parents' bed. This only happens when I move to the right side after Seth goes to work and exists briefly in those moments between sleep and waking. Maybe it's the firmness of our bed that mimics the rock my parents slept on or the whiteness of the walls, looking just as unfinished as the plaster in their room. Maybe the nightstand so close to my head replete with a small lamp, watch and digital alarm clock, numbers glowing red through the night. My mother set the alarm for every day my father worked, even after they slept in separate rooms on account of their snoring. He'd ask her each night if she had done so and sometimes would sit on the bed and watch as she did. There was no hint of condescension or dominance in this action; my father's eyes spoke gratefulness and thanks as he watched her perform that simple display of affection.

Whatever it is, I believe I will open my eyes and be in that bedroom again with cool cotton sheets pressed against my cheek. And sometimes, in the far back of my mind, I can even smell it. I can't focus on the scent or it will disappear, but it's there, latent and fulfilling. Maybe I haven't failed, after all.

1 comment:

  1. Just reading your blog and thinking of you...