Today is All Souls Day, alternately referred to as the Day of the Dead. A couple minutes before nine, my phone rang and I pressed silence, still in heavy sleep in the midst of a crazy dream. It rang again and again, both times I hit silence right away. Finally, a message was left, which I listened to.
The dream I was having before I listened to this message involved me having to drive a car early in the morning and I was such a bad driver, but not suffering any of the costs that being a bad driver would cause you in real life. I drove my car into a lake, but was able to steer it out just as if I were playing Mario Kart. I wasn't suffering any damages to my car or more importantly, to my own body. And then I had to make all these tight turns that lasted so long and I kept on slipping into the next lane. I could not stay in the inner lane and make these really tight turns without slipping out toward the outer lanes. At some point, I realized that I was not a bad driver, that I was just tired and I realized how much better a driver I would be if I had coffee. I couldn't get any right then so just put on some good music and various songs played in this dream as I was driving around, the last one to play, the only one I kind of remember was a perky one by The Magnetic Fields.
It was while this song was playing that the message was left. I listened to the message and it was my aunt Herta, my dad's sister, telling me to call her back as soon as I got this message, that it was urgent. I knew that my father had died and I wasn't ready to hear it yet. I got out of bed, went in the bathroom and washed my face and then gathered a pen and paper, knowing that I might want to write something down. I went back into my room and right as I was about to call her, that is when her husband Ed called me. He told me that my father had died at about four this morning, that they had been with him last night and that he was in a peaceful state. Ed needed me to call this guy, Art Johnson with the Bureau of Prisons and tell him that I gave permission for Herta and Ed to take care of the final decisions. So I called this guy and he told me to write him an email stating that I relinquished the disposition of my father to Herta and Ed. I wrote him an email stating that.
All this before breakfast, before ten o'clock. Herta is going to call me when she gets back to Florida to let me know about the memorial service. I called my mom to let her know, hoping that she would be more responsive, more motherly this time since when I called her a couple days ago she did not really say too much and did not really seem like she wanted to talk about it. I got her voicemail and told her answering machine that he was dead. She called me back, I guess when I was in bed asleep because I didn't know how else to respond. All these significant things said not person to person but to recordings. She said that it was weird for her also, and that if I wanted to talk that I should call her, that she hopes I am okay. And this voice message made me feel better, that my mom was not just being cold, that this is probably even more conflicted for her than it is for me.
My sister's birthday is either right now or very soon. I am not sure what time, what day it is in Indonesia, but her birthday is November 3rd and so I had to write her an email today wishing her not only a happy birthday but also to tell her that our father, whom she hates, is dead. And I am not sure if I was being sincere or glib when I told her that this should be all the more reason to have a happy birthday, that knowing that death is never that far away should encourage a more fevered embrace of this life, of these moments now. I want to be sincere when I say things like that but honestly, I do not know how I feel right now. In Shortbus, so much of the plot is about this woman's inability to have an orgasm, and wondering if maybe she has already had it and it wasn't as big as she thought it was, that she was hoping for something else. And I sort of feel that way now, that I am not sure how I am supposed to respond, that I feel like I should be sadder than I am, that this experience should be more meaningful.
Like when you take ecstasy or acid and you are waiting for it to take effect, wondering if this is it, wondering if you are feeling the effects of it, eager for the drug to take effect. And eventually it does take effect, and your trying to identify the first signs of its arrival does no good in the end and that the best thing to do is just to relax and submit yourself to the experience, to let what waves come, come and crash over you. And even though, I am not particularly sad or all that melancholy, I do have an upset stomach. The thought of eating this morning seemed disgusting. Even though I was hungry, when I considered the things I could eat, when I seriously considered chewing food and swallowing it, I could not not imagine myself retching it up right away. I have had two eggs and a bowl of ramen today. I do not know what I will eat later, maybe lo mein, since that is the only thing I could imagine eating, that there is no chewing, just slurping.
Certain memories keep fading in and out and they are not the ones I expected to. There is something nice about that, that these things I haven't thought of in a long time have not disappeared, that they can still be conjured. It makes me feel more whole somehow, rather than being this body occupying this moment now with clear memories of the just before and then getting vaguer and vaguer as it stretches further and further into the past - that those past things can be just as sharp if not sharper than some of the more recent things. I do, however, feel the space between me and my sheets, that even that space seems too large, too lonely.