I’ve been trying to find the right words all week. I’ve looked under stones and between onion-skin pages, daffodils and piano keys, and realized they could not exist. There will never be words tailor-made for this experience. Language, my favorite art form, has it’s limitations.
My father passed away in the quiet blue hours of Tuesday morning. It still feels impossible, a thing that could not be. How can you go from speaking in the vibrant, immediate, present tense to speaking about such a human in the past tenses, in all their complexity? In a way though, the hardest part was the last 10 days of my fathers life, when his body was waiting to follow his soul. The last time he spoke to me, felt like the day he left the Earth. I feel that Mum and I are at peace, comforted in the knowledge that he is no longer suffering, something he was very clear he did not want.
Dave lived an extraordinary live filled with joy in the ordinary moments, something I aspire to always. His passion for wine and good food took him to many corners of the world. My father was passionate, eccentric, adventuresome and always game (particularly if that game was Scrabble!) for anything. He never treated me as a child, but always as my own person, and wondered at this strange, tiny person that was connected to him. He loved me deeply, unconditionally, and made sure to take every opportunity to tell me.
We’d be in the middle of a cutthroat game of canasta, or I’d be caramelizing onions in his vintage copper-bottom pan, knitting or reading on the couch, and he’d suddenly look at me intensely.
“Nicole”, he’d say, “Nicole, I have something very important I need to tell you”. His tone would suggest he had just discovered the secret to multi-dimensional travel or the final numbers of Pi.
I’d respond with a querying, “Yes…?”.
He’d make sure I’d stopped whatever I was doing, burning onions be damned, and look me in the eye, eyebrows arched in that impressive yet ridiculous way only Dad could pull off. He’d say, “I love you.”, as if it was the most important thing in the universe.
I’d quirk my own brow – not quite as sharply, but still, I have inherited that skill. I’d say “I love you, too”, letting out only a tiny hint of the required teenage exasperation at familial affection come into my voice (Yay! I’m 23 now and have [almost-totally] outgrown that!), and ask “Was that all?”.
And he’d reply with a simple “yes”, and a simple, knowing smile. <3
My father spent 69 incredible years on this planet. I only wish that I had known him for longer than my 23. But it wasn’t only 23 years, was it?, because Dad and I measured in some other unit of time; moments.
At the end of Whiffen Spit in Sooke where we’d taken many a walk, was a bench. After the long walk to the end of the point, we’d sit for moments and take in the sights. Rocks hurled up the strand, kelp strewn on the beach, the lighthouse, seagulls, undulating currents, the lush evergreens of East Sooke, which several years later would become our home. The bench was placed there in memory of someone elses loved ones, and bore the quote, “Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.” Both of my parents loved that quote, and the sentiment. My parents taught me to seek out those breath-taking moments, to trust in my heart and passions and to treat others with compassion [unless they are telemarketers ;), I’m sort of joking. ]. I am so grateful.
Let’s raise a glass to my Dad, Dave Bottles. A man who’s last night quite literally hinted at his destiny <3. My father drank deeply of this world. And encouraged me to do the same.
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)
~ e.e. cummings