On the Peculiarities of Time: Reflections of a Year

21 Apr

June and Rich in 1968

People ask me if it feels like a year since my Dad’s been gone. I don’t know how long a year is supposed to seem anymore.

Papa, Dad, and Mom

How is it possible that it feels like an eternity since April 27 and simultaneously feels as vivid and real as yesterday? I think when the heart is grappling with grief, those pesky universal rules of time and space do not apply. There are still days where, for a millisecond, I reach for my phone to call my Dad, or where I hear a joke and for a brief moment remind myself to tell him that one later. This morning I woke up and thought to myself, “Is he really gone?” It’s a cruel trick that the mind plays on us. But when somebody that you’ve known and loved for your entire existence is no longer part of this physical world, it’s a bizarre thing to comprehend.

At the Bronx Zoo

Does it feel like a year? A year is all at once a long stretch of time and yet no time at all.

So much has happened in a year. I worked my first full-time job and got my first apartment not paid for by the University. I adopted my little Bailey. I created the Remembering Rich team for the Lustgarten Foundation’s Pancreatic Cancer Research Walk and, with the help and support of loved ones, raised $8700 to find a cure. I began to acknowledge the bittersweet transience of life and determined which values and goals are of the highest importance to me.

March 2010

Among the highest right now are to move home with family, to heal together, to help each other. To fully immerse myself into a career where I feel I am making a significant impact on individuals and an imprint on the world; more specifically, to become an elementary and special education teacher. To examine my relationships with people and strengthen those that vitalize and inspire me and discontinue those that weaken and exhaust me.

(Hopefully by now you’ve realized this post is not going to be about Saved by the Bell.)

At Jones Beach

I experienced a lot of firsts this year, beginning with my first birthday without my Dad. Four days after he passed away, I was supposed to be celebrating another year in my life. That was a strange day, to say the least.

May 2009

And yet, it was still a beautiful day. It was on a Saturday, and nobody comes for Shiva on Saturday since it’s Shabbat. So I got to be surrounded by the people I love most – and the people who love me most – and be myself without a trace of self-consciousness. We reminisced, and we laughed, and we cried. And it felt like he was still there. We experienced our first holidays without my Dad here. Rosh Hashanah, Thanksgiving, New Years, and most recently, Passover. And we could still feel him here. I guess spending 20-something years with someone will do that. I hope it always feels that way.

Franklin Park Zoo, May 2009

Next Wednesday will be the last first on this journey: the one-year anniversary of his death. And this is where one year feels like no time has passed at all. The details of that day are so clear in my head, and I don’t think that will ever change. I will forever remember how we were all around his bed when he lifted his arms to the three of us in his final moment of lucidity.

Boston Pops, May 2009

How he dedicated his last ounce of strength to reaching out to hug us. How he was unable to speak, and how no words were needed to express the everlasting and boundless love that does not perish when a person does. How I lay next to him and we shared my earphones and listened to “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole, the song we picked out for our dance at my wedding. I know he heard it. How we were there telling him how proud we were of him—of his bravery and his courage—and how much we loved him, as he took his last breath and transcended to an unknown world where none of us could follow.

It’s been quite a year.


“Life is eternal, and love is immortal,
and death is only a horizon;
and a horizon is nothing save the limit of our sight.”

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4 Responses to “On the Peculiarities of Time: Reflections of a Year”

  1. Mom April 21, 2011 at 2:04 pm #

    Your words go beyond just words – they touch the heart and bring back Dad’s love for us. I can see Dad almost stepping out of the pictures, smiling. He always loved you, and you – him, and that doesn’t change, even when life does. Thank you for bringing Dad’s memory into clear focus – he will always be with you, and with us. PLUBBER. PEANUT. ROBUT.

  2. Josh April 21, 2011 at 11:05 pm #

    Them words touched my heart too. Dad, wherever he is, probably got watery eyes too, and then laughed about being “MR. Sentimentality”.- at the same time asking me- “c’mon, what did you write about me Josh, am I chopped liver?” lol

  3. Phil Goldstein April 21, 2011 at 11:33 pm #

    Very beautiful words and thoughts, dear Robyn. “Every moment of light and dark is a miracle.”–WW

  4. Kaitlin April 27, 2011 at 9:19 am #

    Robyn, this is so beautiful. What a wonderful tribute to him. I love that first picture of your mom and dad. Something so weird – I wrote a very similar post, about reflecting on time and the passing of year, that I planned to post next week for her first birthday. Our thoughts about the flying and cherishing of time are so similar. xo

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