It Happens

I don’t know what to say. My father died. Just before Christmas.

My last post was about whether or not to let the reader know at the beginning of a story that one of the main characters has already died.

Dad was a main character. Not in the book I am writing, but in my life.

I wrote his obituary. I wrote his eulogy. I used all of the writing devices at my disposal to bring him back to life. Scenes. Dialog. Active verbs. All of the tricks. Like a hologram, we could see him for a moment. But, if you had tried to touch him, your hand would have sliced through air and he would have slipped through your fingers.

Still, after all of the words I have written, I don’t know what to say. That punched in the gut feeling; the one that makes me catch my breath. You all must have experienced it when there is something that you suddenly remember. Something you don’t want to admit has happened. Something that you keep forgetting.

I keep forgetting that Dad died.

Like pressing “snooze” on the alarm clock, the truth comes back with regularity. Every ten minutes? Something like that.

He asked me to write his obituary less than two years ago. He was in the hospital for something else. A fall that mushroomed into a life threatening situation having nothing to do with broken bones. He pulled through after two months of touch and go.

This time, all he did was break his ankle. He was 74. But, like a set of dominoes, his system finally fell, one piece at a time until all were knocked down.

But back to the obituary. I didn’t write it when he asked me to. How could I have? What would that have meant?

But as I finally put words to paper the day after his death, I wished he could have read it.

My daddy. A main character is gone.

I walked through all of the exclamations of “Merry Christmas” and “Happy New Year” with a blank gaze. Occasionally, I ambushed unsuspecting well wishers with “My father just died.” Responding to my flat voice, all they could say was “I’m so sorry.” I didn’t mean to make them feel bad or embarrassed. Or, maybe I did. Maybe I was mad.

Sure, he lives inside of me and my memories. Yes, I get it. But, he’s gone in the way that hurts. There are no more chances to tell him I love him. To hope that he gets better. To see him have his wishes come true. To love him in the way he deserved.