When Can I See You Again?

And now here it is… the last post of the Halloween season. It’s by an actress from Holland who now lives on a tiny Greek island, and it’s unlike anything else I’ve posted this month. It’s the perfect post to finish with, and it might make you a little verklempt. 

When Can I See You Again?

by Ber Kanatsidou

‘Jesus Mom! You need special documents to travel with a dead body – even a cremated one!’

Mother had just arrived in the family house abroad and was unpacking her suitcase. After her toiletries and some magazines she took out your ashes. She was quite taken with herself.

‘I’m not going to wait for papers. Your father said he wanted his ashes to be spread in this forest. The whole family is here now so it would be stupid to let some slow bureaucrats ruin it.’

Willful and stubborn, completely ignoring the fact she’d gone through the ordeal of the last couple of years, she refused to rest. You couldn’t see how burned out she was while you where still alive because your own body and mind had betrayed you rigorously. I can tell you though she was pretty worn out. Don’t forget that when you went, she didn’t just loose a sick husband but also her pilot. Without you she’s a loose cannon, Dad.

A long time ago you and Mom showed me a place you had named ‘The Little Fields’. Up the hill behind the house, without a real path to follow you took me to an open space deep into the forest. The Parkinson’s was already narking your nervous system but Mom practically dragged you up there.

I was watching you two on that walk a long time ago. It perfectly illustrated the complications and the love between you two. Bickering about the best way to cross a ditch or to evade a thistle, both of you found the energy to compete for my attention as well. It was of the utmost importance for both of you to point out every lovely detail during the entire walk. And for willfulness… well, because you appeared to be such a calm person, and because of your vast wisdom, people couldn’t suspect you were even more willful and stubborn than your wife. Giving up was something other people had to present to you as a new and unique possibility (that’s how you would look upon it anyway – interested, with a bit of surprise, like you just heard an entirely new word). You would point at a tiny purple flower with one hand while you where clenching a barren shrub with the other. Of course you didn’t know I wasn’t admiring the little bellflower – I was fascinated how much your bony fingers resembled the twigs they where holding.

How you and Mom ever stumbled upon this place is beyond me. I would have never found it on my own – I’m terrible at finding my way, even in my hometown. But sweating and covered in scratches you both guided me all the way up to the Little Fields. It’s really just grass surrounded and divided by small stone walls but it looks like once upon a time it was cultivated. Made from rocks lying around, those walls are guarding the Little Fields forever. Nobody in the village remembers if it was ever farmed though – it seems too far away from any house or path. Ruled by a distinct kind of silence it’s like a place holding only very distant memories – little bit like a burial ground indeed.

So Dad, after you died we went up that very place to spread your ashes. Early morning I climbed the mountain behind the house again but this time with the entire family. ‘Look at her’ my sister said without taking the trouble to whisper. ‘That woman is not burned out. She’s running up there.’ Mom was panting plenty but nothing could keep her from climbing up to the Little Fields. When we got there she gave us all a chance to spread some of your ashes. With a soft breeze some of it blew back to our direction. What were you thinking Dad?!

Two years later I was in need of advice. I was having doubts about whether to become a mother. I’d already passed the age where it’s normal to do so. It was now or never, but I just wasn’t sure about my partner, my house, my work and about my family. ‘What should I do Dad?’ I asked you just before I went to my boyfriend abroad. It was your birthday so you were in my thoughts more often than other days. A few hours later my hired car started to spin, hit the mountain wall and flipped up side down. I got out without even a tiny scratch. Message: girl, life is short. Get on with it! So that’s what I did – I got pregnant quite soon after.

I used to be a very nice person but the last few years haven’t been a field trip for me. When I got married last summer I finally turned into bridezilla and had a falling out with one of my best friends. People might think I’ve lost my marbles – and maybe I have but I’m lonely Dad. That’s why I asked for your help a while ago. You brought me up with your intellect. We would reason for fun and once spoken every word had an impact. I’ve always been entertaining and able to heal others with nothing but speech. Words have always been the only weapon I’m very capable of handling. Now I’ve moved to a country where words don’t seem to count – people talk loud and don’t listen. My world turned into something two-dimensional. Falling out with my oldest friend though made things much worse than just lonely. Picturing my home country couldn’t provide a save mental haven anymore. A visit just wouldn’t be the same without my oldest friend in it now would it? Every happy place I tried to create in my mind seemed fake and my loneliness became complete. The thing is, after the second time I asked for your help things started to pick up. I got more energy, my broken friendship got mended and I did what you always told me to do while you were still amongst the living: I started to write. But I’m still lonely Dad, and I miss you so much.

Now for the third time I ask of you to be there for me. This time I don’t need you to help me or for you to guide me towards an answer. I just want you to be with me. It’s almost Halloween, Dad. It’s time for restless spirits to leave their graves and manifest themselves again. Are you restless enough to pick up your ashes and let them shape a body again? Just one more time? I’m not going to tell a living soul because it’ll only convince people of my lunacy, but on the 31st of this month I’m going to look for you. At about twelve at night I’ll open the small garden gate at the back of the house and just like the other times I will go straight into the forest. I want to find the Little Fields again and call for you. I wonder what it looks like at night – I’m sure the forest will be magical in the moonlight. I just hope I don’t get lost.

11 thoughts on “When Can I See You Again?

  1. Beautifully written! I’m not sure who to like more the man who obviously made time to show his daughter how much he loved her, the wife who remained his partner upholding his wishes even after sustaining one of life’s most difficult blows, or the daughter who is wise enough to know that she had the kind of parents most people only dream of having. I am sorry for your loss, and I hope your wish comes true. 😉 G-uno

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I really enjoyed reading this. You’ve captured the complicated relationship between an elderly couple and their daughter, the mother’s having ‘lost the pilot’, that permanent feeling of haunting/possession when one of your parents is lost to you, the scary feeling that they are now somehow coalescing inside you, like sand drifting into corners, and the terror that by longing so much to see them you might somehow ‘raise’ them. Death is a complicated thing, so, well done you.

    Liked by 3 people

      • You might like to read this poem. I wrote it after my father died. I visited Leeds Castle with my mother, where the three of us used to go together, and suddenly felt as if my father was looking out through my eyes, as I was having to see for him, now. It’s sort of comforting but sort of creepy too:

        SNOW AND SAND

        When my father died
        At last he came to me.

        Snow falling in drifts,
        Sand blown in patterns,
        Atom by atom,
        Assembling inside me.

        Sifted into my heart,
        Drifted through corners of me;
        Things that we never said
        Both chilled and warmed me.

        He looks out through my eyes:
        That lake, those swans,
        That monumental sky,
        No longer I, but we, see.

        Liked by 2 people

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