I thought that this day would never come…I dreamed about it, prayed that one day you would just saunter through the door to tell me that it had all been a horrible and cruel mistake. That you weren’t really dead and that you’d follow up with one of your fanciful stories that would help me to make sense of it all.
But you never did.
This afternoon with you is a gift, a dream.
You were taken from me before I could form memories of you…your laugh, your smile, the way you owned a room simply by walking into it, the scent of your hug, the way your love felt.
When I was ten, I longed for a single afternoon with you, to see the same clear blue eyes and golden hair that I saw when I looked in the mirror. I longed to have you hold my hand and tell me that I was your sweet girl. I stared at your weathered photograph so often that your face was more familiar to me than my own.
When I was twenty, I ached for you so badly. I wanted to know what you thought, I wanted to hear about your thoughts about life. By that time, I had been told that I carried with me your sense of humor, your laugh, and a touch of your rebellious nature. I longed to identify with you and know that you were a part of me. I would have given anything for you to encourage me to take risks and explore my options in life.
When I was thirty, I wished that you were here to tell me that you were proud of me and the things that I had accomplished. I had outlived you by then, which was unfathomable. You had always been older in my mind, but as my twenties slipped through my fingers, I came to realize that I had spent more days on this earth than you had. No longer were you older, wiser. Slowly, you became young…a man who hadn’t yet gathered all of the knowledge and experience that he needed. You were impulsive, a kid, really, when you died. I hated that I had outlived you by half a decade by then.
And now, as I approach forty, I long for your companionship. I wish that I could look in your aged eyes and know that I am grounded in you. There is so much inside of me that I can’t see in anyone else…I wish that I could see myself in you so that I could understand myself better. I wish that I could hear your Maine accent that I’m told was thick and true. I wish that when my phone rang, I could wonder for just a single moment if it was you.
I thought that as I got older, I would achieve a degree of peacefulness over your absence in my life, but I’m finding that I’m needing you more and more.
So, let’s sit on Grammy’s lawn swing and be still together. Let me study you and just hear the sound of your voice.
Let me hear you tell me that you love me.
Tell me about the dreams you held in your heart. What did you want most from your life? Had you even gotten that far? Or did you still believe that this world had infinite space and time for you?
Why did you take so many risks, tempting fate so often and so eagerly that it eventually caught up with you? With me.
Did you love me? The way that I love my children? Did my toddler giggles delight you? Did my cries make your chest tighten? Did you feel that you couldn’t live without me on this earth?
You were barely in your twenties when you died.
Tell me that I’m all that you’d ever dreamed I’d be. Tell me that you’re proud.
Tell me that you’re sorry…sorry for leaving me. Sorry for letting me know what being fatherless feels like.
And when you’re done…hold my hand and let me have these hours with you by my side. Let me just listen to you breathe…let me feel your warmth.
Let me know what it feels like to have a father.
Just for the afternoon.
Today’s post is in response to a Red Dress Club prompt that invited us to describe an afternoon spent with someone who had died. Naturally, I chose my father, who was taken from me when I was just two.