Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
I remember the details. The beige suede jacket, the white corduroy pants. Beige boots, everything so calculatedly inappropriate for the event. My wish to wear white was a sign of my rebellion. I remember every moment. The inconvenience of that beautiful blue sky. People approaching, curious and nervous with awkward and embarrassing words. I remember insisting that the cask should remain closed. What was unfolding before my eyes was something that belonged to me alone. I could never share that moment with strangers.
Pain always keeps us locked into ourselves. Pain is self-seeking. It only talks to itself. Yet my father was a public figure and did not belong to me alone.
I remember seeing the electrocardiograph indicators announce the final impulses of his heart. Of the four children, I was the only one present when my father’s heart relented. I still feel special because of that. It was a moment I would relive obsessively almost every day of my life. I remember my revolt against the priest I turned to in the hope that god could work a miracle. Was there nothing else to be done? Another prayer? I remember looking at my mother’s vacant eyes at the hospital corridor and confirming the electrocardiograph. Nothing else could be done.
Nothing would ever be the same. At 19, I had become one prematurely fatalistic person, aware that after that tragic loss, experienced so crudely, another tragedy could befall me or those I loved, at any given time.
After that, I had a hard time surrendering to love. I always had the idea that love would necessarily be accompanied by a permanent abandonment. I always relived that abandonment. I now realize that I need to exorcise the loss. This text is my way of dealing with the feeling of abandonment. It is written from the point of view of a daughter who lost her father prematurely.
My father “did not go gentle into that good night,” as Dylan Thomas beautifully put it. Of course not! He raged, raged against the dying of the light! Despite the physical pain and weakness that the years of illness had brought him, he harbored an insane desire to live. I remember the last recommendations; the fresh milk should be brought from his friend’s farm to nourish him better. I remember the song he sang to me a few times during carnival, only days before he died 1 March 1, 1980. The samba “Ô coisinha tão bonitinha do pai” (Dad’s pretty little thing) brings me the last memories of hugs and smiles. I remember the green eyes still shining bright and the last gesture of his frail hand joining my hand to my brother’s. The message was clear.
Memory escapes us all. It sometimes comes as friend or foe. Memory does not bring my father’s face any longer. I can see it in pictures but I cannot recover ithe image in my mind. Dreams are even less reliable, but bring some comfort.