My dad has been dead for about a year. I want you to know how I feel.
Okay, so when you’re reading a book and someone asks you how it is, you can only give an incomplete answer. Because it ain’t over yet. And you don’t have any distance from the book. No perspective.
You can only give a full, considered assessment once you have finished the book.
When someone close to you dies, a book closes. There will be no more heartbreaking tragedy. No more love story. No more near misses with mountain trolls. Characters will give you nothing else to love or fear or desire. It has happened. There will be no more narrative.
My father’s book is closed.
It was an odd book. You should know that by now.
But I want you to know that when the book closes on a difficult character that was close to you, your mind will try to heal that relationship. I know that it sounds crazy. But I believe that it is a part of a healthy autonomic system.
It will feel better if you have taken some steps toward letting it do so while that person was still alive.
My mom would try to tell me that and I thought she was crazy. She wanted me to call my dad. See how he was doing. Tell him what i was doing. Send him a picture.
I would put down my prized Nicki Minaj voo doo doll and calmly inform her that if she wanted to talk to her ex-boyfriend, she should call him.
She didn’t want to talk to him. She just knew that I needed to.
I still kept my hard candy shell, though. In principle, I was determined to keep my father at arm’s length so that he could do no more damage. There could be no more disappointment. I wanted to keep my expectations low. I held on to that basic idea so tightly that I couldn’t see that he had not disappointed me in any particular way in 20 years.
If you love someone and the relationship is difficult, try not to set your feelings in stone. Keep examining it from new angles. You will see it differently as you age, as your forget things, after you have a demanding job, after you have your own son.
This morning when I was driving to work, I reeeally wanted to tell my dad that I love him. I knew that that would have made him happy. Oh we told each other at the end of conversations. We had worked our way to that much. But at the end of a conversation, it can take on the feeling of “Whut up, Home Skillet?”
This morning, I wanted to tell him a heavy, straight up, I love you. Not for anything he did or didn’t do for me. But because I don’t have to look in the mirror to know that a certain smile that I smile is his. I like that smile.
My father’s smile says, “I am totally amused by this shit” and “I just might have to shoot one of these motherfuckers” all at the same time.
You would be surprised at how useful I find that particular expression. I’m in advertising.
Oh who are we kidding? I use that look at the Piggly Wiggly.
Anyhow, I want you to know about how I feel today. One day I might need to find the words that make you understand that sometimes feelings trump logic. Sometimes you should put down your voo doo doll and gently, carefully, let them allow you to see things differently.