Election Day means something to a lot of people. You would be disappointed to know Illinois has turned red, just as you would be disappointed to learn, the morning after your death, George W. Bush was re-elected.
Mom is depressed today. We’re sad this week. It’s been six years since I flew home after casting my ballot.
I’ve done a lot of growing up since and you’ve missed it. There are times I don’t feel like life is a whole experience without you being around to take part in the ups and downs. Like it’s a house with everything but a door. Some of what’s next for me is left to guesswork, to faith, because the beacon and barometer that was you is no longer around. I don’t walk through life with the same steel-like ambition. Everything is malleable, more risky, less sure-footed as though I’ve moved from the inside of a curve on a mountain road, to the outside edge slipping on gravel.
I’m not as strong as I used to be. I take pills now, because the sadness got palpable, unavoidable and imminent. I know it sounds bad, and some days I feel bad. Some days I wonder what happened to me as I rebuild the best I know how. But I’m learning to accept the help I need, that it’s ok to need anything at all. It’s a process.
Marc is a good man, honest and steady. Mom remarked recently he’s a lot like you: he feels deeply, but keeps it close and quiet. He too recharges with the challenge of an intricate project, one that others soon marvel and praise. I love knowing he’s like you. He does too. I wish he had the chance to hold the hand light while you worked under the hood in the garage or wash the Mustang in concentric circles.
On my journey, I’m learning a lot about me. I connect with you through my own self-discovery. Everyone thought you were gregarious and outgoing, even invincible. But I knew you to be a man on a couch on a Sunday morning, covered in a blanket. . . all but your toes. Napping. I knew you to love the silence as much as you loved to sit and listen to music. Not in the background, but music as it is and should be, right in front of you. I am the same, Dad. I’d like to spend a Sunday morning with you again.
Most of life is hard, and sometimes I question my resiliency. I wish you could lift me up like you used to so I wouldn’t have to make the climb alone. I’m working to find the tools to do it myself. I smile more now, through my body, than I have in a long time. I want to live openly and honestly, with a purpose, using those qualities as my hooks and rope. Whether you like it or not, I still want to make you proud. Most days I think I’m doing a good job.
I just wish you could tell me too.
I love you. I miss you. I promise all the best of you is with me.
p.s. I promise we are taking good care of Mom.