Until something or someone is gone, truly understanding how deeply woven into our fiber they are is difficult. On an intellectual level, we know we are our parents. Our cells are literally made from pieces of their cells. What we sometimes don’t recognize is that we are also built from experiences shared with our family and our friends. We are the knowledge they have imparted upon us. We are the choices they have influenced–even if ever so slightly. So when we are left behind, left gasping for air in the vaccuum of their absence, we need only look inside us to find them.
My dad loved to grow food, and he loved onions. He was also a fount of random knowledge. He helps me choose the sweetest onions every time I go to the grocery. Years ago, when he was teaching me how to make spaghetti sauce, he pointed out that the sweetest onions were flat. The oblong, pointy ones were the hotter ones. And so he is there when I shop. He is there when I look at the leaves of an oak tree and know it is, indeed, an oak tree. He is there when I try my best to listen intently to another because he instilled in me that everyone has something to offer. He is there. I carry him with me through the vaccuum, so the gasping becomes less dramatic.