A meditation on rain
It’s raining, Chad’s still away, and I can’t stop thinking about Andre Dubus’s story “The Winter Father,” about how perfectly it captures the feeling of isolation. In this story, a newly divorced father takes his children on an endless parade of activity—to the arcade, to the movies—places where they are always “alone in their togetherness,” where the pain of their weekly separations might be ameliorated, or at least drowned out, by the lights and noises of the distractions around them. The father yearns for summer, for an end to the snow and the rain, to be freed from these places that only remind them of their loneliness. In the sun, on the beach, they get their reprieve. “I want it to be summer forever,” his daughter says at the end. I am like this daughter, eager for summer, but for now it lies in wait. And here in the Pacific Northwest, it rains.
Maybe it’s raining in Pittsburgh, outside of the hospital room where my father lies, where he has been lying for several years now. Maybe he is soothed by its rhythm, by the way it softens the view from his window. Maybe he sees the rain and thinks of Seattle and then of me, trying to conjure up some form of togetherness in his solitude.
Maybe it was raining the day my grandmother fell, when she lay on the floor for hours alone. If I were to write the scene as fiction, I would consider the rain cliché, a melodramatic backdrop. But real life has a way of arranging such ironies. I want to believe that rain muted her voice when she was found, when she cried out I’m so lonely, that it dampened those sound waves and washed them away in the street.
I want to believe in the redemptive power of rain, want to lift my face to it and be baptized. But you may spare the aspergillum. This water isn’t holy. It’s just rain, falling on the roof of an empty house.