Dear Dad,

June 14, 2012 § 21 Comments

Does it surprise you that the fifth anniversary of your death is coming up in July?

It surprises me. And it doesn’t.

I still say “Hi, Dad,” when I go in your house, although I say it less often than I did at first. The illusion that I’ll walk in and look through your bedroom door and see you sitting at the computer doesn’t hold up. The desk is gone. It is no longer even a bedroom.

I’ve never missed anyone as I’ve missed you, not even Mom, who you know was one of my best friends. Although I was alone with her when she died, I couldn’t face her death and so I walled it off. What I didn’t know was that walling off her death walled off her life as well.

I still haven’t found my way back to her. I sometimes dream she is alive, but forgotten in a nursing home or hospital, as if I had misplaced her. Please tell her I’m sorry.

You and I worked so hard to keep you alive. Remember the endless appointments with urologists and cardiologists? I especially remember sitting with you waiting for the urologist and staring at a diagram of male urological anatomy. It was all simplified and abstract except for the probing finger that was palpating the prostate, which was drawn very realistically.

We stared at it together, father and daughter, and wondered how we’d come to this point. But we were up for any indignity. We wanted you to live.

The morning you left for the heart surgery you leaned over and patted Moo. “I’ll be back,” you said. But to me you said, “If I don’t make it, I have no regrets. It’s been a good life.”

When you didn’t. I remembered the mistake I’d made with mom. I was determined to keep you in my life no matter how hard I had to grieve to do it.

I gave at least a year over to your loss. It was at about the time Josie and Ray began to confer about how to fix me—this has gone on too long, they said—that I was driving home and sunlight hit the car windshield. Suddenly bathed in light, I felt something I had forgotten.


And I realized that I was coming out the other side and that you were still with me. But the broken glass of your death had been worn smooth. I could carry it with me unharmed.

We still own your house. We’ve turned it into a library for the neighborhood kids. The archaeology of your life is disappearing beneath stacks of picture books, art supplies, abandoned hoodies, crates of Legos.

This is how I’ve gone on without you. I turned the loss of you inside out, giving it to those who will sweep the future clean, not just of you, but of me as well, and then they will travel on. Last week, when the kids gathered I talked about simple machines. No matter what future they go toward they will need to understand pulleys and inclined planes.

You did. You lived a life anchored in logic and science. Did you see the catapult we built in the yard?

Still, I miss the calm company of your rational mind. Your kindness. Your ability to identify a bird based solely on its song. You, singing like some dime store Sinatra in the car. I miss our daily walks. Having a dad.

I miss you–and I carry you with me everywhere I go.

Happy Fathers Day, Dad.



Note: Dad always spelled my name wrong—and pronounced it just the way he spelled it: a drain.

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§ 21 Responses to Dear Dad,

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