As I sit here, part of me doesn’t even know where to start. The other part — that rational part that I’ve done the love-hate tango with over the years — knows exactly where to start.
Well, maybe not exactly the very beginning since I feel like I’ve told that story a million times already. But at the very least, I should start at the beginning of today.
That’s how long it’s been since my father’s suicide, since my world became unrecognizable in the span of 24 hours, since the man I thought I knew so well was gone from my life. Forever. He’s gone, and we’re still here. I never thought it was possible for time to go fast after my father died. But hours turned into days and days turned weeks and weeks into months and months turned into a year…and before we knew it, an entire decade had gone by. Life, it seems, went on — through our tears and our fits of anger and our sheer loneliness.
Sometimes, I so wish I could just forget about everything that’s happened, especially when it comes to those early days. But some other things, like my childhood or the sound of my father’s laugh? Those are the very things I don’t want to forget. And if I’m being honest, I’m so afraid I’ll forget; it’s becoming one of my biggest fears. Our lives are moving forward, and our heads are getting filled with other things — mundane things like to-do lists and appointments and useless trivia.
Ironically, it’s like my father used to say: Our brains are like computer hard drives, and there’s only so much memory space available. There comes a point where you have to wipe the hard drive clean in order to make room for new memories. I can’t help but feel like my “old memories” are getting erased in favor of these “new memories.”
AND, GOSH DARN IT, I DON’T LIKE THIS!
The distance between my life in the present and my old life — life with my father — is growing bigger and bigger every day, and I feel powerless in bridging that distance. I want to remember my father’s smile. I want to remember how animated he’d get when telling a story. I want to remember how he’d help me with my chemistry homework every single night — with a blanket draped over his legs. I want to remember how he’d sit by my hospital bed and read me the newspaper to take my mind off things. I want to remember how his big bear hugs felt.
I want to remember it all. I don’t want to forget anything — not even one tiny morsel.
So I try, as best as I can, to remember him each and every day. Yes, some days are far easier than others, but I want to remember him as he was. My father. Not as a man consumed by the ravages of cancer or judged by the stigma of suicide. There were far more good years than bad ones, and those should be — deserve to be — honored, don’t they? They meant something, and now, 12 years later, they mean more than ever to me. I cling to them to get me through those sad days. I know we all do. I love you, Father, forever and always… xoxo