I hear him. I hear his voice so clearly that it startles me. I feel him sitting next to me. I’m happy that we had the years during his battle with ALS. I’m grateful that I would breathe those moments in. That I would look into his eyes when he would speak to me.
I would think to myself – he could die tomorrow – drink him in right now. But you never believe that he’ll die. He’s your man. Your hero. Your Daddy. Daddy’s don’t die. I would close my eyes and pray that I would remember the inflection in his voice. His scent. I would take a d-e-e-p breath. Soaking him in. Look him in the eye. Look at his eyes. Really look into his eyes, as hard as I could. Thank God for that.
Odd thing – but I’m happy I knew he was dying. It could have been different. He could have died fast. But If he did – I think we would have been good. I would always tell him I loved him. He did the same.
I know that we’re mortal. I know that it is all fleeting. I know how much “I love you” means. I was lucky. My Mother taught me that. She always tells me she loves me.
We should all say “I love you,” more.
Sometimes I’m not sure what year it is, and I forget he’s not here. I’m being serious. When you’ve lived 40 years and your Dad is there, it’s an odd thing when you realize that he’s no longer there. You find it so odd that he’s not right there for you to speak to. It’s bizarre.
“Oh man – that’s hysterical – Dad, did you see…” … oh right.
“What the heck – I can’t believe that – Dad, can you believe “….oh right.
And so it goes.
I’m not sure how to handle it all. It’s changed me for sure. I sometimes feel like if I look my wife in the eye, my heart will spill out on the floor in front of us, and she’ll see that it’s broken. And if she sees my broken heart, her heart will break too. So I look away. I sit still. I don’t talk about him. But I think about him. I don’t do it on purpose. I really try not to. But there it is. I hear him.
“Dad, how should I handle this?”
“Christopher, you need to …”
His voice is SO CLEAR in my head. Crystal clear. I hope that never fades.
When I was about 12 years old my Dad asked my brother Mark and me to do something different. He told us that he didn’t need another tie on Father’s Day. That we shouldn’t buy him another Father’s day gift. He asked that we get him “experiences.” I rolled my eyes. I thought – what the heck is he talking about?
He’d say “Christopher, I have enough things – all I want is my boys.”
I didn’t appreciate the sentiment until right now. Literally. As I write this. This moment. This painful – tearful moment what he meant. He was giving us a gift. Because right now – right this moment – I can smell the air at the field when we took Dad to see his first Brooklyn Cyclones game. I can see his face when we went on the Intrepid. I can hear his voice when we visited his childhood home in Gravesend Brooklyn, on Stryker Street.
“Boys – this is home base – this is first”…etc …etc…now I get it.
I can finally hear him. This is what he wanted. He knew what would last. He was preparing us. He was helping us through days like today.
I miss you Dad, I love you Dad. Thank you for your love, your guidance, and your affection. I miss you more than I could have imagined. Thank you for teaching me how to be a good Father. A good man.