Ever wonder if it is “normal” or even a good thing that no one ever just drifts away anymore, given the ease with which we all maintain digital connections? I’ve had his phone number on a small piece of paper in my wallet for more than a week now and I can not just pick up the phone and say “I am really sorry to hear about your father.”
Because I’ll hear his voice and feel a familiar pang all the while knowing that in reality I am on the phone with a stranger… He is such a huge part of my heart in a strange way, taught me to love freely without reservation or fear and that became so much of who I am that I almost can’t see him as a real person… He’s a memory to me, that’s perfect and sweet and sad and wonderful. And when I hear from him, I want to reach out, to reach back and it is so hard…. because we don’t really know each other anymore. I don’t really remember anymore… being fourteen, fifteen, sixteen, seventeen… I only know that he was there. And my family was changing, my parents redefining themselves, and I held on to you because I wanted something to be my forever. I had no idea then that nothing lasts forever. Not your family, not you, not me, nothing. Even those that endure, it’s not forever. They start anew, redefine themselves, grow, evolve and change along with you, if you are lucky.
Sometimes you hear from someone and you think, “Oh, I’d love for you to meet my kids/dog/husband/present life” and have a beer and share a laugh. And sometimes you hear from someone and you think I’d love to pull up beside you in a parking lot, get out of my car, put my arms around your neck, make you sure you still smell exactly the same, confirm that your hands feel exactly the same as they always have when you wipe my tears off my cheek, whisper quietly “hello, I am here if you need me, thank you” and get back in the car and drive away and let it all remain in the past. Where it belongs. Because it was perfect there.
So, b, if you read this… I am sorry about your father. He was a really stand-up guy. Made me laugh and not feel awkward, which wasn’t easy to do as the fourteen year old girlfriend. And if I see my teenage self around I’ll have her call you. Because she’d know what to say. To you.