I haven’t written for a while. How do you put into simple words that your father drove himself to the job he hated, parked in the parking lot in his 2010 spotless vehicle, and shot himself in the head instead of facing another day in the system? How do you explain that the person you’ve known the most closely and longest in your life…the man that saved, raised, protected, loved, and taught you how to be a woman…your hero…was in so much pain that he could only hurt himself to be released?
When I found out, it was as if somebody had taken my entrails and tossed them into the tide, to be chewed on slowly by bears and eagles like a spawned out coho. The emptiness was tangible. Yet, life was still beautiful.
I sobbed, I fell, I stood back up, I fell again.
I walked into parked cars.
I drove (somehow) to the cabin and meditated in the sun.
I sobbed and fell again.
I’ve done this a lot.
John has caught me-.
My initial and remaining reaction is simply…I want to wrap the entire world, every suffering father, brother, uncle, sister, mother, son…every person who is doubting their self worth, every child feeling lonely…in a warm, safe bubble of light. I want to point out their beauties…their successes…the absolute treasure life is. I just want to hold and protect every person so nobody ever has to feel the pain my sweet father felt August 29th, 2012.
I don’t want to issue a harsh word to a single soul.
I haven’t had the courage to sit down and finish an entire blog since it happened, but today I decided to ignore the 3 drafts I have started and from which I’ve walked away, crying.
Words will be written, and shall not be edited.
Here I am. 20 minutes left on the library computer, and a story to tell.
It has been over a month since my father made the decision to remove himself from the system.
A bold statement to the institution at which he worked: How bold?
On the month anniversary of his death I celebrated life with a 20 mile run along the ever gorgeous Lutak Inlet. My lover and soulmate biked behind me offering encouragement the entire way. We saw so much in that time: A rainbow, sun, steady rain, whipping wind, biting cold, many eagles, and unparalleled beauty.
Two days ago John encouraged me to take a break from packing up the cabin. I did.
I pushed the kayak into the ocean at high tide and made a break for the waterfall across the way. I paddled vigorously, never pausing to rest. I had a vial of my father’s ashes in my pocket, as well as a little vile of tequila. I paddled to the base of the cascading water, hiked into the trees, found a beautiful spot from which I could see the cabin, yet still feel the spray of water, and meditated.
I talked with him. I cried, I laughed. I rolled my eyes at his dramatics.
I took pictures like spent hours doing side by side in Dominican Republic. I poured him some tequila and drank down mine. I reminded him of our first time going out to get drunk together, when I returned from Afghanistan, and our first time smoking herb together when we first returned from Alaska this past fall. I talked about how he beat me around the trailer park by cheating on that infamous race that hot summer day when I was still all knees, ankles, and tendons. I laughed at how I took him snorkelling for the first time, and he needed floaties. I remembered how he taught me to swim, walked with me hand in hand on the beach, and came to every Zumba, Masala Bhangra, and salsa class he could.
I even admitted how I secretly enjoyed his infatuation with that damn saddle and cowboy hat when we’d have my birthday dinners at Texas Roadhouse.
Lastly, I talked about how that waterfall had healed my heart, my soul, and my mind after I returned from Afghanistan. I talked about the countless hours I’d spent on my porch, pondering the hatred of war, staring at the water ripping down the side of the mountain.
The waterfall, constant but never the same. The water that rushes from skyward, always bringing with it promise of change. It is never the same waterfall…never the same drops of water…It is constant motion, always fresh, always beautiful.
Yet so powerful.
You never step in the same water twice.
I left him there, at the base of the waterfall. His ashes shimmered in the golden afternoon light as they arced from the vial into the soft swirls of the crystalline spring. I couldn’t help but smile.
I left him in the most healing place I could imagine; the place where I’ve spent 3 years channeling my healing energy.
When I paddled back across the inlet, the sun was bold in my path. I stopped just short of the cabin and said thank you to the man of small stature with the big open heart who is responsible for who I am today.
To my Stormwatchers, thank you for your patience with my silence.
To my father, I love you, David Manuel Maldonado. It is a love that transcends time and space, distance and dimensions. I know you know that. I know you feel that. I feel your energy, healed and healthy, around me constantly.
I will leave you with these words in loving memory of my father, the bravest man I know: