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I Saw You Today, Pop - Kelley Murphy
Walking with Others
Welcome to the Walking with Grief series -where we connect in our shared stories of loss and transformation. This guest piece was sent in by Kelley and you can find more of her work here: Spirit Seed
If you would like to get involved with this series and share your own story, send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org or follow this link: Walking with Grief
I Saw You Today, Pop
Thank You for Saying Hello
Pop and Me, circa 2017~ Photo by Author ~ Wasn’t he cute!?
I never know when the grief will hit. I can go days without feeling its heavy darkness, then BAM! I’m bawling in the frozen foods section of Publix.
Which is exactly what happened this morning. I was tooling around, minding my own business, weighing the pros and cons of buying foam hair rollers.
I glanced at a frozen food case, and there it was, staring me in the face.
Sara Lee Butter Streusel Coffee Cake ~ Photo by Author
Pop’s favorite Christmas morning dessert. I stopped dead in my tracks as time slowed. A tsunami of vertigo passed through me.
Memories flooded my senses and my vision blurred with tears.
The five of us and at least one dog circled the tree on Christmas mornings in the frozen hinterland of Minnesota. Bright, sharp sunlight streamed through the sliding glass doors, making diamonds in the snow.
Nat King Cole playing on vinyl and boxes and baubles of all sizes piled high, higher some years than others. Despite Mom’s best efforts, wrapping paper littered the room from end to end.
It was hard to escape the overwhelming gratitude we all felt these mornings. Happy to be alive and together, if only for one day. Some years the gratitude lasted from morning til night. In other years, only until the booze started flowing.
An hour or so into opening presents, Pop would get restless. He would demand a coffee break. We’d all head to the kitchen and drink mimosas while mom scrambled eggs and fried various types of meat.
And always, there was Sara Lee Butter Streusel Coffee Cake. Pop couldn’t wait for the meal and sampled bits on the sly while Mom cooked. Christmas morning is the only time I ever saw that particular breakfast treat in the house, and Pop looked forward to the ritual.
I didn’t expect to see you today, but there you were. Nat’s gravelly voice in my ears, I looked into your twinkling eyes and hugged you tightly. I felt the warmth of your orange cashmere sweater against my cheek and choked on the scent of Bay Rum (You did tend to overdo it with the scents on holidays).
We embraced as we have a thousand times before. The energy of love and loss passed between us across all time and space. You were there, totally and completely.
Then suddenly, you were gone. I was back in the supermarket, surrounded by frozen pastries and fatherless.
The pain of missing you is indescribable. Please stop by again soon. I love you so much, Papa.
Merry Christmas to the person who loved me the most.
Thank you so much for reading! xo
© Kelley Murphy, 2023
Shared with the permission of the author - Kelley Murphy
The stories and content shared in this series are authored by individuals who have generously chosen to share their lived experiences with grief. All writings and narratives published in this series are the sole expressions and perspectives of the respective authors.
I encourage readers to practice self-compassion and self-care when engaging with the content, recognizing that some narratives may evoke strong emotions. Discretion is advised, and readers are responsible for their emotional well-being while consuming the stories.
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