He left too soon. He wasn’t finished. He didn’t get to finish whatever it was he wanted to do.
He did finish Don Quixote and Ulysses. He did not finish Proust.
He only wrote a half dozen sentences in a document titled “Autobiography.” The purpose of the document was to explain himself. He never did.
He would be 70 on June 2nd. A milestone birthday that would not have been lost on him. It would have been a time for personal examination. A time to assess and review. A day filled with grandchildren, tulips and sunflowers, cheese and fine wines.
Death is sad. It’s even sadder when it comes before it should. When you are left with questions. When the person’s story hasn’t been told or even been finished yet.
It’s hard when the person was an integral part of your life. A person you talked to each and everyday. The person you would have called when you read “The Blackbox” in The New Yorker this week. The only person you would have called when you heard the John Edwards verdict. The person who would have called you to wish you a happy summer today. The person who would have called to hear Alex’s baseball stats and would have critiqued his whole 7th grade writing file with a smile.
But he gave me what I think is a gift. A gift that I couldn’t fully unwrap when he was alive. The gift to write and to share. But I would trade it all in a heartbeat. I would trade it to hear his voice answer when I accidentally dial 1-703-465-0415. When I accidentally call it one year and six months after I knew he would never answer it again. I have a voicemail. One simple voicemail saved on my iPhone. From 11/10/10. A day when he was lucid. And I have the message from 11/29/10 telling me he would be gone soon. And I have the memory of my last words to him…”I will never forget you.” And I have the pain of wishing those words were more poignant because what daughter ever forgets her dad. Why didn’t I quote Emily Dickinson or smooth his passage into the other world with better words? Words that meant the world to him. Words from him that are all we have left.
On June 2nd I will toast my dad. I will gaze at the sunflowers I bought for myself today. I will look to the sky and search for that shooting star that tells me it will all be ok.
On June 3rd I will sit at Alex’s baseball game and wish he was there or at least on the other end of the phone to talk to when it is all done. I will poke fun of the Red Sox loving fans in my house and remind them that they will never do well while Grandpa is in the stars.
And I will sit and I will read the journals he left. I will add more sentences to the document now called Biography instead of Autobiography. I will figure out how to explain my dad. Because that is what I have always done.