That subtle shift…

I love those moments when you’re aware of a shift in a relationship. Sometimes that shift is for the worse (but ultimately for the better as all things are), and sometimes the better (in a more direct, obvious way). Regardless, I love being aware of those moments as I feel the most alive during them.

***

The first time I was ever aware of this kind of shift happened many years ago when I was about 10 or 11.

For years, my dad would tuck us in and kiss us goodnight. He would sit on the side of my bed and we would go through our brief ritual, the close of which was him reaching over and dimming the glaring green light on my bedside clock.

One night, out of nowhere and for no particular reason, I reached over and dimmed the light myself.

I remember looking back at my dad and locking eyes with him for a few moments. I know the look on my face must have been a tad resolved and challenging. He, almost imperceptibly, nodded with a deeply hidden sad look on his face. Almost like, “I get it. You’re a big kid now. Understood.”

He never tucked me in again.

For sometime afterwards, I really missed him tucking me in and I wished I’d never touched that damned clock. I suppose I could have said, “Hey, pops. Tuck me in tonight?” but we didn’t really communicate verbally much when I was a kid.

***

We had another such moment seven years later while strapping the dying Christmas tree to my mom’s van to go dump. I looked down and realized I could see liver spots on his hands. Hands that I love. Hands that are the reason that I evaluate every other man’s hands. I remember it clearly – I grabbed one of his hands, examined it, looked up and him quizzically, and he just smiled resolutely and shrugged. It was the moment I realized he wouldn’t always been around – that my daddy is mortal.

***

I’m not sure why I feel the need to share any of that right now. I just know that a few people in my life have lost loved ones recently and it’s making me pay all the more attention to mine. Not to trivialize, but I’m so grateful that their loss is my reminder.

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