Papa didn't believe in Band-Aids. Whenever he had a cut--a reoccurring instance as he was always working with his hands--he preferred to use New-Skin. This liquid bandage, looking an awful lot like clear nail polish, "sealed" his cut and allowed him to go right back to work in the kitchen/garage/yard.
The day of Papa's bhog at the Gurdwara, I ended up peeling my own skin off instead of a carrot's. It was a deep cut that wouldn't stop bleeding despite all the turmeric rubbed into it.
When I got home, I found that bottle of New-Skin. Papa swore by this thing, I thought. I should use this. Determined, I opened the bottle, got a good amount of liquid on the brush, and coated a layer onto the cut.
And it burned. A lot.
This was worse than a swipe of an alcohol swab--THIS WAS TORTURE. What the hell was in this bottle? Papa never once flinched when he used it! This is some serious false advertising, and I'd like to speak to your manager.
I panted, and after a few seconds of crazy-eyes, applied a second layer. It hurt, but much less. The third coat had the ghost of a burn. The fourth felt like nothing at all.
In these past few months, everything new, everything done for the first time feels like that first layer of New-Skin. It makes me want to squeeze my eyes shut so hard that the world implodes and emotions become irrelevant. It makes me want to take my brain out and leave it off the read so I can just stop thinking about every single moment I was robbed of having. It makes me want to scream at whoever is in charge and point out exactly how I was cheated on that January afternoon.
I am stuck in a revolving door of Firsts. The scabbing and healing seem distant because each First seems to burn a little stronger.
The first time we set the table for three.
The first Saturday waking up to silence.
The first time we changed the car's oil.
The first time I saw a movie and felt the absence in the seat next to mine.
The first time someone called home asking for you.
The first time I dreamed about you (we were crying and saying goodbye at Sam's Club).
The first time I felt--and can't stop feeling--the inevitable mortality in everyone and everything.
The first time I was sick, standing at Duane Reade, and all I wanted was to cry in the aisle because I couldn't call you.
The first time that new lawn mower wouldn't run.
The first time I felt helpless.
The first time I felt overwhelming responsibility.
The first time I figured out that new lawn mower.
The first time we tried one of your recipes and it just didn't taste the same.
The first time I hung a new painting and realized that all the tools were in my hands.
The first beer on the deck.
The first time Mom packed away your winter clothes, knowing it would also be the last.
The first time I bought shoes without consulting your opinion.
The first time I laughed so hard that I felt guilty for feeling happy.
The first time I checked flights and realized we will never stand at the Grand Canyon (or the cliffs of Ireland or the coast of Australia) together.
The first time I caught sight of your snow boots, untied, slightly worn, still in the hospital bag.
The first moment I realized I am no longer allowed any new memories or photographs with you.
The first time I knew I couldn't do this alone and all I wanted was to just hug you and smell your cologne and feel safe and see you smile and have you laugh at my dumb jokes or just want to know if you're proud of us or if you think I can do better or if I'm a good person or if there's another Bond movie we never watched together.
The first Father's Day.