“Walk it off.”
Dad, I’m walking it off for you.
“Suck it up.”
Dad, I’m sucking it up for you.
“Be a man.”
Dad, I’ll be a man for you.
“Help your mother, she’ll need you.”
Dad, I’m trying. I really am. But I am frost instead of ice. And I crumble at the merest touch, the lightest breath. I know that mom will need to lean on me. But right now, my shoulder feels much more like a morning dew than the Gibraltar that it lays upon.
“Forgive me son, because I don’t believe Jesus can. I don’t believe he will.”
Dad, I told you, the only man Jesus can’t forgive, is the man who won’t let him. You taught me that dad. You.
“I’m scared son. I’m scared to die. I’m scared shitless.”
I know you are dad. And I am too. You were always so huge. So much bigger than life. So – well – immortal. I think you almost believed it too. And now you’re dying, and now you’re gone. And now I’m alone. But not. I have mine. Mine, that grew out of you. You’re gone, but we carry on. You’re gone, but “You” will always be with us. You live on, in us.
“I’m scared son. Your mother and I argue all the time. I’m scared. I’m afraid.”
It’s OK dad. I’m afraid too. I’m afraid that J.C. will offer you a brotherly hug, and you’ll instead turn in disgrace. I’m afraid that, through your thrashing fear, you’ll first destroy the memory of 47 years with mom before you go. I’m afraid that you’ll pass, and I’ll be left here sitting mute – like so many in our family have done before – too fucking scared to ever really tell you how much I love you. Too frightened to expose myself like that. Too scared to hold you, knowing that I will then have to let you go.
I love you, dad. Not because you’re perfect. Not because you’re saved. And most definitely not because you’re right. No, I love you simply because you are you. And because years before I knew how to, you loved me first.
“I never did enough.”
No, you did. You gave what you could, when you could. And in the final analysis, you did so freely. Even if you might have felt otherwise at the time. And that’s why I love you.
“I don’t think I’ll make it to see June.”
I love you dad, and I don’t think you will either. But I will. And I will see June for you. And when we meet again someday, I will tell you all about it. OK?
Just rest till then. Please, find peace. And when we meet again someday, I will catch you up on all the Junes that followed after you. On all the June’s to follow…