Since My Dad Died

Grief is lonely, terrifying, and so very ugly

Human Parts


Photo: Niccole Rivero

IIt’s been 479 days since my phone rang at 5 a.m., my mom on the other end to tell me my wonderful, joyful, loving dad had died.

The first year after his death was one of ups, downs, and upside-downs. A year of phone calls dialed out of habit before remembering no one would pick up. These are the moments no one prepares you for, out of a movie script, unknowable until you’re in it, it’s happening, the phone is in your hand and you don’t even remember dialing.

Someone else has his phone number now.

I’ve cried on buses and sidewalks and bathroom floors and in friends’ living rooms and the back of cabs and in West Virginia woods and my office and my boss’s office and on New York beaches and into a pot of pasta sauce. One time, I had a full meltdown on a street corner while wearing a penguin onesie. In my defense, it was Halloween and he had only been dead for nine days, but that doesn’t make it any less ridiculous. My grief has been very public, but at its core, it is a solitary act no matter how many friends or strangers are within earshot.

I don’t have any advice. I have no idea what I’m doing. All I know is I’ve listened to too much Bruce Springsteen at 3 a.m. and tried to go to the gym a lot. I took a few boxing classes and punching…