“He’s gone…” “He’s gone…” “He’s gone…” It repeats every day in my head. Every night in my dreams. Every morning it wakes me up. How can this be? It’s been almost three weeks since my father died but some days feel so normal, like he will show up in June, ready to accompany the rest of my family to the hospital when Makayla is born. Other days I feel like I am suspended within a multifaceted tornado made of broken glass where I am not harmed but surrounded by fragmented reflections of myself. I look closer and ask the shards of reflections, “Who are you?” “Who were you?” “Where’s your dad?” “How could you not have known this would happen?” Irrational, understandable, panic, and peace throw themselves on top of me like wet blankets and I want nothing to do with any of them. What do I want? I want emptiness, a place where I can meet my father, a place that transcends the finite halls that are plagued by mortality and it’s shortcomings so I can say one last goodbye. I want to feel or see where he is, I want him to tell me that he will watch over us, that he has met his granddaughter. I want to know what he thinks about her.
My muscles are quivering, these are the aftershocks of shock…..of awe, the remnants of my last desperate reaches and attempts to follow my dad when he took his last breath, foolishly and selfishly demanding that he not leave his family, taxing my intellect and imagination to it’s maximum capacity to create a memory of where he is right now, trying to trick my senses into convincing me that I have touched it and in turn, followed him into the beyond if only for a moment so that I can feel reassured that he still IS. God, I miss him so much. Just months before he died, he and I hiked Camelback mountain with my mom. It’s not an easy hike and he apparently had a tumor in his lung when he did it. That’s a fucking Iron Man.
Why did he have to die?
It’s fucked up, but I miss and ruminate on the days of Eisenhower Hospital; he was in his last month of life but he and I shared some of the most powerful moments of my life during that period. I can remember in exquisite detail when I groomed him. Right before I started, we each made a lame-ass joke to one another and then….we were completely silent from that point forward. The energy in the room changed as if it snapped to attention. Time did not stop, but it felt like it slowed down significantly. The clippers hummed but I was hardly aware of the sound, I heard something else that I cannot explain, I felt something I cannot explain — nor do I have any intention of trying. It still makes me cry because it was so sublime and…real. It was cerimonious.
His hair was short and snow white with strands of dark grey. He was “sweating” his cancer. He allowed himself to be vulnerable with me and relaxed his head into my palm, allowing me to care for him. We breathed slowly…synchronously.
I find myself at a loss now, so few words left to type. Perhaps it is best. All I will say is that’s the most significant thing I’ve experienced with my dad. As verbose and exaggerated as this all might sound, I learned more about manhood in that moment than any other in my life, as if it was transferred to me intuitively.