Paula Josa-Jones in Ghostdance, photo Pam White
On October 30, it is 19 years since my father passed. An impossible number. I was living in Mexico, developing choreography with Mexican and American dancers called Ghostdance, based on the images and stories of the Dia de los Muertos. My mother called and said that he was slipping into a coma, the result of organ failure due to his leukemia. I flew home and arrived in time to feel the last voluntary movement he would ever make. “I love you Daddy, I said,” and squeezed his hand. He squeezed mine, and then fell deeper into a coma from which he would not emerge. I knew that he had been waiting for me.
It astonishes me that I still feel him to be so present. That has never changed. I can feel the great outlines of his humor, his warmth, his beauty. I remember his hands, the way he walked, the little details of his physical presence. All the other stuff that we fought over, all the battles that seemed so important – so very life and death – have dissolved, rinsed away, leaving the elemental part: love, connection, appreciation.