Today, I recall the stories my father told his children and grandchildren in the kitchen. His travels through European countries suddenly come to life as I am vicariously living through my husband and son’s recent trip to Europe. His stories had always seemed so far away, and momentarily unimportant.
And yet, his world was only about a 10-hour flight across the ocean from the eastern seaboard. My heart is stirred by the memories of his sojourns after his escape from a war-torn country. As I now study the map, the path he took seemed magical and fantastical. Sadly the younger version of myself lacked the patience to record the details.
Yes, I regret that I barely recall the names of the cities and towns as vaguely imprinted in my hazy memory. Had he only written it all down, had I only written it somewhere, I would not feel the intensity of my loss at this moment. The recognition that stories may come to life someday when you’re gone, invites the flow of tears. And of course, the song “In the Arms of an Angel” by Sarah McLachlan begins to play.
I feel pain mixed with peace, that he is now in the arms of an angel. It doesn’t relieve the anguish of regret.
I wish I had listened more. I wish I had cared more. My remorse only returns emptiness as I’m left alone with my imagination.
The treasures he dreamed about finding as he looked for gold in the river on his land were right in front of us all the time. All we had to do was pay attention to the stories in the kitchen.
– Erika K Rothwell