The urge to call my dad today was overwhelming, even though he has been gone for over 30 years. He died two days before my wedding many years ago, and his absence still echoes in my heart. There are some times or events that intensify this feeling, such as when I am sick.
As I child I seemed to catch every virus that floated past me which, due to my allergies, would turn into asthmatic bronchitis and, on at least one occasion, pneumonia. I remember my dad building “steam tents” in my bedroom to help my breathing, and injections of adrenalin from doctors making house calls. This was a long time ago.
When I was very sick, I would awaken to him spoon feeding me a mixture of honey, lemon, and a little whisky, mixed into hot water, basically a hot toddy, to sooth my cough. When I am sick and coughing at night, which I have been doing the past several days from a bad cold, I dream that he is beside me, spoon and cup in hand. But the dream has eluded me, and I have almost forgotten it.
Until today when a bartender at a local restaurant offered to make me a hot toddy for my lingering cough. I blinked to stop the tears that flowed from my heart to my eyes. At the first taste I was back in time with my dad by my side calming and comforting me, helping me breathe.
And maybe that was what I really needed, a reminder to inhale and exhale, and to focus on my breath, especially as the chaos swirls around me.