Her grief is not mine to share. Her sadness she must bear alone. I might as well be a million miles away from her as she holds her dad's hands for the last few times. I can do nothing but wait for her to tell me it is over, wishing that I could be there by her side.
He was the one who taught me there was a difference between NYC bagels and any other kind of bagel. It was the water, he said. He fed me cheese from his favorite NYC deli that he brought back every year. It was unlike any other cheese I had ever had. Did the cows have special NYC milk? I even discovered there was such a thing as boxed wine because it was always in his fridge, waiting to be shared with friends and family, bringing people together.
He welcomed me into his home and talked with grand gestures, his hands always moving, hugging, beckoning. He seemed larger than life to me and so....Italian. Whenever I went to her house, I had the sense of being part of some extended family that I myself never had. When I was there, I was special, even if my teenage know-it-all attitude turned away and felt embarassed by his warmth.
He is part memory, part reality from my youth that I struggle to remember. But he was there and soon he will not be. And I can not be there to share her pain. But I am here, thinking of her, holding her in the light as she holds up her step-mom and family; but I am here, hoping he passes surrounded by love and warmth, his pain controlled and his family by his side.
It is all I can do, but I will do it.
I may not be there...but I am here.