My father died a year ago as of the publishing of this blog. No matter how you measure the time, it’s both so far and so near.
I remember a Metro train on a brisk November night, on my way to check off a own bucket list item: seeing Social Distortion play live.
I remember my cousin Ron and pondering what they might play. Though the 2012 election results were newborn, we hoped there wouldn’t be any political crap. Just a night to be young again.
Then my high-pitched “WHAT?” as my dad’s cousin called—from my father’s cell phone—to tell me Dad was dead, vaguely aware of that yell freaking out every one in the train car. The cold matter-of-fact truth that my dad was gone.
Never Ready For It
When someone you love dies, it’s pain and sudden sorrow. Mom died after battling cancer and Dad died getting up from his chair while watching TV.
I never got to say a any sort of goodbye and it will always feel unfinished. I absolutely adored him, though time and life put distance between us. I was his baby boy, and he always spoiled the holy Hell out of me. He was an imperfect man but he was my imperfect father.
But It Isn’t All Sorrow
As easy as it is to be melancholy, you soldier on. And the totems of my dad’s existence remain. I have my red Fujitsu pen I stole from his desk when I was a college kid looking for something quick to write with, that I order refills for from Japan.
And there’s this bowl.
This bowl was my dad’s bowl. His cereal bowl.
Eating cereal in my family wasn’t just something you did in the morning. We were connoisseurs of cereal. My brother and I are still.
Want a snack? Cereal. A light lunch? Cereal. Something to eat while watching TV? Cereal. Trouble sleeping? Have a bowl of cereal.
Honestly, we should have owned stock in Kellogg’s, General Mills and probably a flour mill or three with the volume we consumed.
And the bowl I have pictured here, I can clearly see him still eating from it. Back ram-rod straight (he was in the Marines once), eyes focused forward on the TV with BBC comedies on PBS, eating with an efficiency that could make the world tremble.
And you won’t get true scale without seeing it in person. This bowl holds about a quarter box of cereal. Because that was a single serving of cereal to us.
Things are not important in the end: they are just as much cosmic dust as we will ever be. But these things are all I have of him, and this thing is now my bowl from which I eat cereal with alarming efficiency and focus.
One More Thing
Today happens to be the day they announced when Star Wars Episode VII is going to be released. I can’t help but chuckle because it was my dad taking me to those movies as a kid that, in many ways, formed me to be who I am.
As a basic truth, his love of movies informed my own.
There was a reason we had a VHS player before anyone else on the block. There was a reason we had a video store membership before that was a thing. My dad loved movies.
It was me and him seeing The Empire Strikes Back together, or Raiders of the Lost Ark, or me repaying the favor and taking him to Episode I to complete the circle when I was an adult.
And so it feels fitting that on the anniversary of his death, they announce when the next one—to which, presumably, I’m taking my kids— is being released.
It’s a nice coincidence, actually. The inescapable Star Wars connection with Dad is a nice one.
I’ll carry on blogging for Dad the same way I have been for my mom. These remembrances are all that the world will know of him. Or her.
God forbid something happens to me, this will be the record my own kids will read to know from where they came.
And Good Night
I miss him and I will always. There will never be a day I don’t. And I think that honestly, no one would ever have missed him in quite the way I do.
I hope that God is good enough to grant him mercy, and also to grant me the chance to see him when I take my own journey into the Great Hereafter.
And I hope to eat a lot of cereal before I have to go.