I want my Daddy

I don’t have these days often anymore.

Even immediately after my father died, I didn’t feel as big of a gap in my day to day life as I expected.  Part of that was simply that I’d just started college, so I wasn’t around home to notice that he wasn’t.  I was in the middle of trying to spread my wings and find my place in the world, so I didn’t expect my Dad to be much more than a weekly(ish) phone call, an email here and there, and a part of my visits to Minnesota.

Of course, every once in a while I would have a question that I felt like only he could answer.  He, obviously, was not around, so I’d lose it.  I’d bury myself in painting or journals or blogs and I would stop fucking sleeping because there was only one voice that I needed and that voice was permanently unavailable.  I’d break down sobbing in a circle of friends, so lost in my own tears that I couldn’t even see the stutter of confusion flicker across their faces as they processed the suddenness of my outbreak. I would pick up and leave the place where I was, move to new cities or take trips to different countries with barely any notice.  I would walk the long sidewalks of Chicago in the comparative quiet of the night with my hood up and my earbuds in.  I would close doors both literal and figurative and shut my ears to every voice that breathed.  I could handle reading.  I could handle movies and television shows and podcasts.  I couldn’t handle the kind of people who stood, flesh and bone, in front of me, because they were never the right person.

And today, for the first time in at least a year, it hit me again.

Sitting behind the wheel of my big, clunky Buick, staring at a red light and trying to shape the thoughts in my mind into something cohesive, I realized who I needed to talk to.

Whose advice I needed.

Whose voice I needed to hear.

My throat constricted.  I bit the insides of my lower lip.  The insides of my torso pulled further inward.

Because that voice is permanently unavailable.

My Dad was one of those people who was uniquely capable of bridging viewpoints that are notoriously difficult to bridge.  He was balanced, level and incredibly gifted with perspective both nuanced and practical.  In addition to this he also had a very moral core from which he rarely, if ever, wavered.  He listened and spoke well.  He expressed his beliefs with gentleness and authority.

And that is exactly what I need right now.

Part of the struggle of growing up, the reason why you need to be surrounded by people who are intelligent and thoughtful, is because sometimes it is really hard to tell if the decisions you’re making are okay.

It’s really hard to tell if the compromises you choose to make err in unhealthy directions.  It’s really hard to tell if the moments in which you do choose to stand firm are moments of childish stubbornness, moral victory or some murky in-between.  It’s really hard to tell if you’re turning into an adult or if you’re just getting older and more authoritative.

Sometimes you need someone to tell you.

I have plenty of people around me who are incredibly intelligent and thoughtful who I could talk to about my struggle to grok adulthood.

But none of them are my Dad.

None of them have his nuanced world view, his way of very kindly telling me exactly why I’m wrong or why he’s proud of me, his moral compass or his warm hug at the end of a hard conversation.

That’s all I want.

And it is the one thing I cannot have.

Often life gets distracting and full and beautiful and I think it’s healthy that I don’t always realize how big of a hole you left when you died.

But then there are days like today and the hurt is just as powerful as it was when I first heard you were gone.

I miss you.

I wish we’d had more time.

I'd take another puzzle date with you and Matt any day.

I’d take another puzzle date with you and Matt any day.

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