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I'd Rather Be Carried

Sunday, June 09, 2019

I wish I could remember the last Father's Day with my dad, any little thing he did or said – but the events that followed it have swallowed the memory. Instead, I must imagine it as a historian puzzling over the end days of a doomed village, busy in their belief that sandbags, vaccines, prayers could somehow prevent a cataclysm. I picture myself on that day decades ago, just past my teens, outmatched and unaware, sure that if I just believed it, I could keep him alive.

The day before, I must have shopped in a too-bright department store for a tie he would never wear, or a gadget that would remain in its box. I would have purchased it knowing that a wrapped-up token could not fulfill my desperate need to thank him, to apologize for being a brat, to tell him I loved him, to save him.

I did not know on that last Father's Day that a few weeks later dad would be rushed to a life-saving lung transplant, only to be denied the surgery for a host of sad reasons. Soon, I would help my mom select a polished rock to mark his brief 44 years of existence, reducing to ash a giant who couldn't possibly be dead.

Now a woman of 50, I hold onto his vanished shirttail with a grip so tight, for so long, my fingers have gone numb. I want him to tell me what to do. I want him to write a letter to me in all caps, full of his famous misspellings and all the answers. I want him to be, forever. And this is the thing about becoming fatherless, no matter our age: We walk on our own because our dads taught us how. But some days, we would rather be carried.



See the memorial necklace I created in honor of my dad here.

Read about the revelation I discovered in my dad's journal here.




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