My son is napping, and I sit listening to the sound of the rain falling on the roof, splashing onto plants, dripping from leaves, dripping, pooling on the ground that has become so saturated with damp that the rain stays, collecting on top like the soil in the pots of the house plants when my son decides to “feed them.” Saturated. I too feel water logged.
Tomorrow is Father’s Day, and this year I have no idea how I am supposed to celebrate it. My father is dead, and the father of my child is no longer my husband. This makes tomorrow seem depressing at best.
Lately, my thoughts seem to be struggling to find words to express themselves even in writing. To give them voice seems dangerous. Silence is safer because what I have to say does not feel inspired or inspiring. And when I speak it comes out thorny, bitter, and even whiney, and oh, how I detest whining! So I am silent as I listen to the rain.
I feel the urge to stand in the rain and let it rinse my heart clean, my heart, which has been rolling around underneath the seats on the floor board of my car collecting lint, dust, hair, sticky wrappers of half-eaten kid snacks and other bits of unmentionable things deposited there by foot traffic.
I pray to the rain.
I want to simply appreciate the fatherly acts of my ex-husband, to be grateful for him teaching our son how to ride his bike without training wheels, for it to not also hurt that I wasn’t there to see it. And when my friend’s response to my question about father’s day is: “Is that tomorrow?,” I want it to be okay. When I say: “Yes, and you should call your dad,” and he claims that father’s day is as important to his father as it is to him (i.e. not at all), I don’t want to snap back with a growly: “That’s because you still have a father you can call whenever you want!” I want to remember, to agree, that it is just another day, one, which our capitalist society has turned into another excuse to consume, to spend money on things we don’t need. But this view is as jaded as my jealously because despite what the advertisements tell you, dads don’t need stuff, but they do need appreciation, and they deserve it too.
Later when my son wakes up from his nap, we make his father a card by taping together two pieces of his artwork he had previously selected. Then he dictates a message for the inside, and after I write it down, he adds his own scribble words. He has also painted a heart-shaped ceramic container for his father. He decided it was for putting butter in. This makes no sense for more than just the obvious reasons, but that is also what makes it special.
When we finish, it is still raining, and he wants to go for a bike ride. This is the first time we have gone bike riding (i.e. me following behind him while he bikes on his “two wheel pedal bike with new tires”). We start down the trail to the park, and the rain starts coming down harder. He is biking so fast that I am literally running to keep up. Within the first five minutes we are soaked. Soon even my rain jacket is not repelling the water with much enthusiasm, but it doesn’t matter. We are on the boardwalk now, and there is almost no one out. The ones who pass us give me strange looks. I’m sure I seem irresponsible and crazy, letting my kid ride his bike in the pouring rain at nine o’clock at night, but I don’t care. This is heaven. The bay is still except at the very surface where it is being jiggled by drops of rain. The trail is filled with muddy puddles, and there are so many negative ions in the air even my soul feels purified. By the time we make it back to the car, we are both grinning and wild eyed. And I realize that my son’s father taught him how to ride a bike, my father taught me how to play in the rain; and in our own inconspicuous way, we have celebrated and honored them both. It turns out that I didn’t need words to express my sentiments, just the rain and a quixotic adventure.