We would have talked about the kids and the cool things you’ve been doing on your computer. You would have asked about my job and Husband. You, undoubtedly, would have found a way to mention that I have not called or sent pictures in a long time, which would have been true. Or maybe you wouldn’t have said anything, but I would have heard it anyway. I would have asked you about your health, and you would have lied. I probably would not have asked you about grandma because I didn’t want to know the bad news or hear you complain about how hard it is for you to take care of a 90-some-year-old woman with severe dementia.
I probably would have mentioned that we were planning a trip home some time this year, probably in the summer. Of course, you would have known that this meant that we would stay with my mom and stepdad and only stop by to see you a couple of times during the week, in between all other commitments. But you would have told me how you couldn’t wait to take the boys to the river beach near your apartment, show them the frogs, watch them play at the playground, hold Baby on your lap.
And then you would have said something to indicate that you should get off the phone, much sooner than I would have expected. I would have been surprised, as I always was. You were always the one to end the conversation—but maybe you did it to take the pressure off of me. Your voice would have started to sound tired and weak, which I would have probably attributed to minor speech difficulty from your stroke of a few years ago. But there would have been so much emotion, so much pain in your voice that I would have wondered if you were crying.
I would have been the first one to disconnect, and then I would have replayed the conversation in my head many times, wondering how you really were, what you were working on, how you were making ends meet.
But we can’t have this conversation today, and no matter how awkward those calls sometimes—or often—were, today I would give so much just to hear your voice again, Dad. To tell you how much I love you and how sorry I am that our relationship was not what you or I ever wanted it to be. And how much I wish I had a second chance.
I first paid attention to the words of this song on my long flight to your funeral. Since then, I have been unable to listen to it without tears. Yet I can’t seem to be able to turn it off when it comes on the radio in the car. Instead, I pull the car over and cry.
For being away for far too long”
A brilliant friend suggested that sometimes you simply don’t get closure. Ever. This brought me to tears—and surprisingly, also brought me relief because this notion allowed me to stop wondering ‘what is wrong with me’ and ‘why can’t I just move on.’ But it also made me realize that even if I don’t ever get closure, I need to get through this, I need to get things off my chest, and pushing these thoughts away or ignoring them is just going to prolong the pain.
You always told me that I should write, Dad, but I knew I could never be as good as you, so I resented your pressure. I said, “I can’t write something that others would find interesting.” And you said, “If it is interesting to you, there is a good chance it would be interesting to someone else.”
I took a break from writing, hoping it would free me from my gloomy thoughts. It seemed to work for a while, but the sadness has returned, and I found myself composing sentences in my mind during sleepless nights, hoping that by properly linking them together, one by one, I can build a path out of this darkness. So it seems fitting that on your birthday I return here, to a medium that has helped me find a way out before.