Time moves on and I turn back to see the day I lost him, disappearing like the tail of a kite. He's been gone for over half a year now. I never thought myself capable of going this far without him. It's not something that gives me relief or pride. What I am is stunned by the ultimate strength it requires, and that I could come up with it, that I can come up with it. It was days, weeks, then months, and now I've put year into the sentence. Still, take it all apart and every day takes work.
There are doors I hide behind, blankets I stay beneath. I can't bring myself to remove "Dad" from the saved numbers in my cell phone. Though it shocks me to see it, sometimes I look at it and I desire to dial it. Just to see.
I've taken bits of him and made them my life. His memberships in particular. His Coastal Conservation Association membership, his United States Equestrian Team, Arbor Day Foundation and Ducks Unlimited memberships. These are in my life now. My money follows his for causes he taught me to believe in and support. My memberships, previously giften upon me by him, are now turned around and continued in his name. Still, envelopes arrive in the mail and I recognize the logos but I search out his name.
I take him to work with me, take his hand on my back to meetings I'd rather not be in because I have to take the lead and I'm not sure I can. But I do, because I've taken his hand with me.
I take him on walks with me. I take him down the street and around the corner. I pick up the bits of paper and discarded beer cans in the park. He leads me to it; he asks me to make things clean again. It's what he taught me: clean up the messes you find.
I kiss his picture on my dresser each night before going to bed. I say goodnight to him out loud after I pray. I need to talk to him still, to hear "Dad" from my voice, to him, not about him. So I talk to him.
I'm as handicapped at saying goodbye as she is. If you walked into my parent's house, you'd not know he was gone, save for the urn on the bar. She can't remove him. I understand her. His sunglasses are on the hall table. His reading glasses are on his bedside table. His shampoo is in the shower and, yes, his toothbrush is in the holder beside his sink. I don't know how she does this, but I know exactly why. His camel hair coat hangs in the hall closet. His shirts and jackets hang in his closet. His closet. His saved quarters, dimes and nickels in coffee cans on his shelf. His business cards on his dresser as he had placed them, his bulletin board with drawings from the kids. His hats and his shoeshine kit. His luggage and his shaving kit. All there and waiting for him to make them useful again.
The photos, the kisses, the memberships, the clothes. Is this how it is? I do not know. Do we hang on to things that were his in some mad method to keeping him here? Is that really him standing in my dream? I do not know. Is that really him nudging me forward? I do not know.