I Carry You~originally posted on June 31, 2009
I look down and my hand is doing that thing,
it’s resting on my lap in a curve.
Dad, your hand was just this same way today, I saw it.
It was sitting there resting exactly like this.
Just like Grandpa. The same hand in the same spot.
Curved just so, fingertips to leg.
The lanky fingers that grow thicker with time,
they curve on the lap and rest.
I do it too and it’s just like the unconscious way I run my finger across my lip like Grandpa Glenn when I’m nervous. Or how I grab the bottom of my shirt and rub my thumb across the fabric, like Grandma Helen. It’s the way I care like Aunt Elsie and understand like Grandma Colleen.
It’s the way I laugh like Aunt Sandi and cry like Auntie Kay.
Today I’m thankful that I carry you, all of you.
Today, I’m thankful for you.
The man with the curved and rested hand and skin like leather
turned brown from the sun,
all the working in the sun.
The one who still says I’m the greatest
and falls in love with my boys
just the way that I do.
The man with the heart so big.
I carry my family.
I carry you.
I love you,
Happy Father’s Day.
He quit drinking when I was very young. Just like that, proving that he could, fiercely. Years and years have passed and he’s never picked up a bottle. I can’t seem to wrap my mind around how he did it. He said not to do it like he did with no meetings and no treatment. That’s not the way to do it, he said. Get help.
That first day, two months ago, we sat him down and I cried and I said, I can’t say it, I don’t know what to say. And then minutes went by and I finally said it, I have a problem and I drink too much. I wasn’t worried about his disappointment in me, I knew that wouldn’t be there. But I was worried about his guilt. I would never want him to think, I gave this to you, because he gave me so much more than this.
I carry him and I carry me and I carry my boys. And we are not a family of alcoholics first. We are people and loved first. People with a greater capacity for giving that love because of this, this broken down part of us that shows us we’re all the same and then reminds us to accept people just as they are.
In the end, strangely, this is a gift. And when I get scared that my boys will live it out next, that the chain reaction of lifting the glass will not end with me, I have to remember…my Papa, and me, we’re both okay. We are fighters. God pulled us to our feet so we could walk through it and out of it and he can do that again.
But of course, I beg and plead. Let it skip them…please please please, let it end with me. Help me show them how to be free, with my life, just like he did.
Yes. I carry him and he showed me how to be free.
It’s not his fault. It’s not my fault. It just is. Like curved fingers, resting just so on our laps, worn from the years and still beautiful because they’re carried through to the next generation. The way they show our sameness and shout that we belong.
Like an author’s final masterpiece, we need the messy parts of the story to bring us to a richer place. Redemption. We move on from there, people ready for the next chapter because of the painful growing up of us, carrying each other.