Saturday, August 10, 2013

Lonely: Honoring Papa (Five-Minute Friday)

Inside my blue chest painted with red and white flowers, the aged air hangs lonely above its treasures.

Your weathered lefty baseball glove.  Green sweatshirt printed “Still Waters Bookstore & Cafe.”  Cannister of African red tea with a single bag remaining, as it has for five years.  Thick stack of homemade birthday and Father’s day cards scribbled with little girl adulations and colorful drawings; another stack of Hallmark and collage-style cards stuffed with words of love from a young adult daughter.  Your reading glasses with their limp, folded stems.  A book inscribed with your beautiful lettering inside its cover, echoes of a Papa’s eternal love from distant shores.  The program of your memorial service, your laughing form sitting on the fireplace ledge of the bookstore, black and white and faded.

Faded.  It’s all faded and backlit, quiet and pulsing.

Five years it’s been.  Five times walking down this August road - from the sixth when you fell to the thirteenth when you died to the twenty-fourth when we crowded into the church and I sang for you with my guitar - of living and breaking and grieving and healing.  Of remembering.   

Every August the loneliness sets in, my companion, peeling back the void.  My world rent open when you died, now pieced together with scar and tissue, leaves me limping still.  And life goes on, as the saying goes, but I fight cliche and the relegating of you to the foggy world of memory. 

I hate that you are now a piece of my past and not my flesh-and-blood present, for memories alone are lonely.

And yes, your life threads across my pages of story as another year turns without you.  But I see it, too, in photos of our family, with faces older and alive, how we huddle close to cover the empty space and smile - and how it tips, lopsided. 

You were my Papa and you are my Papa and you always will be my Papa, and in my heart there will always be that space where your memory echoes and warms and fades into lonely shadow.

Joining Lisa-Jo and the Five-minute Friday community for this week’s prompt, “Lonely.” 


  1. This is beautiful - so full of emotion and imagery. I really get a sense of the deep and intimate relationship you shared with your Papa. So sorry for your aching heart and for your family's loss.

    1. Thank you so much for "hearing" me - it's an honor. My dad and I certainly had a complex relationship, more deep and intimate in the few years before he died. We do miss his presence, very much. Blessings to you and your loved ones...

  2. As we talked about yesterday, the pain of losing Papa is something that goes on and on. It is painfully highlighted in August as we relive the memories. He was very precious in all of our lives and will always be missed.
    Thank you for once again writing a beautiful tribute to a special man.
    Love you so, so much!!!

    1. I'm glad we could talk yesterday, Mom. I can't even begin to express how grateful I am that you are in my life, that you are here near me in Seattle for this season. You are such a treasure to me. xoxoxo

  3. Dear Amber, I am so sorry for the pain that continues as you mourn the loss of your special papa. I can only imagine what a difficult time this is. Again here right in the middle of your pain, you express your ongoing story through tangible objects you can hold and smell -- the baseball glove, the book inscribed with your dad's handwriting....Beautiful, my friend. And that line: "memories alone are lonely" taps something in a way I've never understood it. It's why remembering touches something sacred and holy and painful all at once. I love you, friend, and I'm praying for you.