Ramadan Day 7 – How to Start

July 4th. 2014


I’ve put high expectations on myself.  As a result, I’m less willing to start writing in my Ramadan journal today.  I know it’ll be fine once I start, but I don’t want to start.  What if I’m not okay when I get to the end?  What if I don’t feel good?  Or anything?

Today’s the ninth anniversary of my father’s death.  It’s feels like an excuse for not writing.  It feels too private to write this on the page.  But I’m doing it anyway, writing, stating a fact about my life, because – I don’t know why.

I don’t have any special wisdom.  I’m angry at myself for feeling like any of this is an excuse for anything else. Why can’t things just be what they seem?  I’m tired.

I feel so still.  I guess this is weird because I’m not a calm person.  Usually, I’m one of those people who lives with a great wind inside, pushing me.  The absence of it during Ramadan is noticeable.  So here I am, fasting on a death-er-versary, festooned with grief, not particularly able to summon the energy to move, to even get out of bed.  It’ll be hard to run the dead dad’s club from this position.

There’s no escape.  Is there?  I’m too tired to run away.  I text a few people.  Nothing.  They’re probably out celebrating fourth of July.  Usually, if I’m a bit low, I can call people up, go out and have fun, distract myself, or motivate to write, read, go watch a movie or something.  But because it’s Ramadan, I’m quiet, and I’m weak.  I’ve been lying here all day, thinking about nothing.  It’s only 1PM.  What’s happening to me?

Every now and then I feel something. Somebody put a rock on my chest, and I’m required to lie here, to watch my breath take it up and down.  Usually, my rock is dropping down dangerously fast, magnetized by the unknown depth of being.

My mom cuts the roses and says, Your dad always preferred to take people the flowers that he grew.  She laughs.  So we’re bringing him the flowers that he planted.  She set two roses and some branches on the table.  The deer got the rest, she says on our way to the car.  But we’re lucky they left a few.

When we get there, she uses one of Booker’s little plastic sippy cups to transport water for the flowers.  I walk to the wooden rail where there is a faucet, and a metal bin filled with empty recycled flower containers.  I move slowly, carrying up the water for my dad’s flowers.

I sit there with my mom on the rolling hillside of grass and marker.

Where am I going to go when I’m dead?  I ask.  Are the plots next to you taken?

Well, I think this one here is taken, she says pointing to one.  Maybe not the other one, though.  Did I tell you, a couple years ago, the lady from the funeral home called and asked if I wanted the plots next door, but I said I only wanted one if they would let me plant a tree.  I told her I want the shade because it’s so nice.

Well, what’d she say?

She said no.


Do you think you’ll remarry? I ask her.

No, that’s asking for trouble.  I’m happy by myself.  I have a family.  I don’t need any more kids.


I should’ve brought some food for dad.  But, I guess he can fast with me.

Next time, my mom says.


I can sit here for a while.  Do you want to sit here for long? I ask.

No, it’s hot outside.

She points up to a giant Chinese Elm spreading its shade.  She points to the weak, pimply tree about 12 feet away from my dad’s grave.  Someday that tree is going to grow as big as the other one.  We’ll be able to sit here in the shade with your dad.


Ok, I’m going to juy-geong and say goodbye.  Do you want to do that too? I ask.

No!  I’m his wife, you’re not supposed to do that.  My mom giggles.  Only you kids are supposed to do that.

Ooops.  I bow.

Look, she says, I gave him a little bow anyway.


On the way out, there are six wild turkeys walking in a row.




My brother’s vacationing with cousins in Los Angeles.  My sister and her husband Aaron have taken the kids to an amusement park in Gilroy.  A part of me feels so alone.  It’s just me and my mom today.  That’s how it felt after my dad passed.  My sister calls while my mom and I head to a coffee shop where my mom is going to do some work while I write this entry.  Hey, Bernice says, Where are you guys?  We’re at the cemetery.


I turn around the car and head back.  We’d only left 10 minutes ago.


It’s ten minutes before 4, when the cemetery closes.  We’re back.  Aaron is in the car with Booker who is napping.  My mom, Bernice, and I sit on the lush lawn beneath a giant elm, down the hillside from my dad’s grave, facing a deep blue fountain.  My mom holds Phineas while I feed him.  He pats me with his little fist, warming to me as I spoon him the squash and tomato puree.  He farts a couple times.


As we walk back to the car, Phineas butts his forehead against my face and laughs when I coo.


I don’t remember what we talked about.




starter kit


i traced my fingers round

and round the invisible circle

i started at point A

ended at point B

i made myself

a moon



1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Caitlin
    Jul 07, 2014 @ 14:00:53

    hell of an independence day post, Serena. 🙂



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: