You can’t keep your guard up forever, and sometimes you’re just going to take a shot that knocks the wind out of you.
Tomorrow (as of this writing) we will inter my father’s ashes permanently. April 3 will be a day of final farewells.
Obviously I miss him still. I will always and every day. I see him in my actions and reactions and in my very likeness. Every morning I see a bit of my dad staring back at me.
Truth be told, I’ve spent the last few months avoiding the real emotional impact of his death. My brother and I had to square shoulders, put our heads down and let the other bring to the table what they could do best. My brother took on the lion’s share of the heavy lifting so to speak, but that’s his nature. I’m the kid brother and that’s how it plays out. I don’t mind; only ego would be served for me to try to exert greater influence over things. Besides, my brother did a fantastic job of making things happen. If you can’t do better, why get in the way?
But in the interim I went to conferences and spent time losing myself in moving, work and all of the other things in which a guy my age seems to lose himself. I also drank far, far more than I do typically. Granted, my appreciation of fermented beverages is greater than once it was, but it’s been far more than has been my past habits. That seems to be subsiding into a more restrained enjoyment, because that’s how things are.
But not so long ago my family laid in bed one chilly morning and watched The Muppets. It’s a fun movie made with a deep love and one that triggered the deepest reaction to my dad’s death in months.
See, when they rolled out the opening to the classic Muppet Show, in one moment I was suddenly reminded of him. He watched The Muppet Show as enthusiastically as I did, and that touchstone was there, suddenly.
I wept. I tried not to, because here we are watching a fun family movie and I’m going all melty-emotional with sadness. But I couldn’t hold it in.
Ever since, I’ve been reminded of little things of my dad. The infamous red pen—for which I order refills from Japan since they don’t make this pen anymore—which has written me through countless original works and musings, was nicked from my dad’s desk. But being his youngest son, his Moose, he couldn’t bring himself to take it back. That was nearly twenty years ago I took this pen and now it’s a daily totem to remind me of him.
Of all things, I was listening to the Star Wars soundtrack (I know, right?) and was alone, and started crying. Because those first experiences with Star Wars are irrevocably tied to my dad and how much, frankly, I adored him growing up. My father was my giant walking teddy bear, who completely understood what it meant never to let go of that kid inside.
Very specifically, he would purposely mis–quote Greedo greeting Han Solo as “Oodie Boodie Boodie Boo, Solo,” knowing his precocious nerdling child would continually correct him. I fell for it every time. Every single time.
I’d always wondered why he held onto those childish impulses for so long; I’m beginning to understand why. There are things I’m coming to understand about Dad, and things I’m learning to let go. But most of all, I’m learning how human this man was, that a little boy once treated like he was a superhero
And the more I understand as a father what it takes to keep moving for their sake, regardless of how much you might want to stand still just for the moment, the more I think he was a superhero after all.
Good grief, I miss him so much. I wish I didn’t have to say goodbye again. I wish my brother and I weren’t the only two people on the planet left who truly knew who our parents were when the world wasn’t around.
Godspeed, Dad. I’ll never stop thinking of you.