Yesterday, August 4th, the Blue Angels flew over Seattle as part of Seafair and being buzzed by the bold blue and yellow F-18s is a highlight of the summer. They make me shiver. They make me cry. I don’t even know why. Maybe it’s just that they do the impossible and I’m moved by the courage and skill it takes to do what they do.
Yesterday, August 4th, was also the day my father died. I was fifteen and a half when he died and I don’t really try to remember August 4th as the anniversary of his death, but it is there, part of the date, associated with the number no matter how old I get or how stoic I am.
I was alone all day yesterday writing. My kids are at their dad’s this weekend which is good as I’m on a fierce deadline and being very disciplined (finally). I don’t talk about August 4th and what it is to me anymore but yesterday I did mention it in a brief conversation with Surfer Ty. I don’t think he knew when I told him what the day was that I was telling him it’s a hard day for me. It’s a day I remember someone I haven’t seen since I was just a teenager but someone I’ve missed every day of my life since.
This is private, I know. Grief is private. I’ve never written a lot about my dad in my blog because I’m an adult now and a mother and other things have happened. Life keeps happening. But August 4th reminded me of others we’ve lost this year. Jackie Gaskins, my mother in law. Sally Winn, my second mom and the mother of my childhood friends.
But August 4th isn’t all sad. There’s joy, too, and pride. My dad was a teacher and a writer who never saw his work published at the level he dreamed of being published. I’ve used his name, Porter, on my books to honor him and let him know his talent and drive and dreams weren’t in vain. I waited twenty some books to dedicate one to him, choosing Frog Prince as his book as I wanted his book to be one he’d love.
Yesterday when I was alone and writing and listening to the roar of the Blue Angels I felt moments of loss, and moments of grief and then moments of fierce love. My dad was the first one to edit my writing. My dad was the one who tried to find places for me to get published as a child. He might be gone but here I am, writing, publishing. And maybe it’s juvenile but as I type, furiously pounding out chapters in my new novel, I want to shout, Look at me, Dad. Look at me.