Today my brother and I each found a copy of a letter from my dad to us in our mailboxes.
I knew it was on the way, and I had some idea what it said. I also knew that it was written a long time ago, when I was only eleven, and that my dad thought better of sending it. I guess he sensed that my brother and I wouldn’t quite be able to understand it all and he didn’t want to upset us. It was about how much he was missing us, and how much he loved us as people. As his children, too, of course, but he said that even if he weren’t our father, he’d want to have us as friends, because he liked the kind of people we were.
I talked to my brother some this afternoon about it, after his copy had arrived and I was waiting for the mail still. And his voice broke just a little when he told me that it was so good to see Dad’s handwriting again. And he was right. It was.
My step mom found the letter while she was going through my dad’s things and so she finally delivered it to us, all this time later. I’m glad she did, but I also had to read it through three times and then put it up, because I’m just feeling so sad and so broken.
At the end of the letter, he asked us, if we ever did get the letter, to take it out from time to time and reread it. And then he put it up someplace instead of sending it.
For the last couple of months before he died we talked nearly every day, sometimes twice. And he told me often how much he liked that, even though sometimes our phone calls were just thirty seconds or less of him letting me know that he couldn’t talk and me telling him I was thinking about him. But he liked hearing from me every day. I liked it, too. And I liked that he didn’t ever tell me goodbye, but since I usually called at night, he’d just say Goodnight, sweetheart.
The very last time he spoke to me, it was over the phone. He only was able to tell me, what? I think that he wasn’t feeling well, that he was hurting? That he kept asking for pain medicine but nobody would bring him any. I think that was all, but for the life of me I cannot remember. It’s okay, though. I’d much rather hear his voice, happy and sounding like himself, saying goodnight than remember him telling me, in his restrained way, the hell that he was living in with his lung collapsed. He had to force air out with all his strength to get the words to come. I could hear how difficult it was for him. I think I told him that he’d better go rest up, save his energy.
I miss our phone calls. So much. I guess when I can stand it, I’ll have his letter to read instead. And I’m glad for that, I really am, but I still keep looking at his phone number programmed in my phone and I can’t yet imagine this hurting less.
It’s the simple everyday things that sustain us when it is all over, at least that is what I find. I used to call my father’s answering machine at work and his cell just to hear his voicemail kick on. They eventually found a replacement for his position and my mom cancelled his cell phone after a time. It’s those pieces of life left behind that bring comfort when it hurts so very much.