A thought flickered through my mind of a time before my father and I became close again...
It was a dark time in both of our lives when the conversation took place. Now, almost four years later, I can't help but wonder the "what ifs" of the situation.
It was before he moved back to town and was waiting for my brother to graduate from high school so he could move back. He suggested I move in with him. Well, the proper term would be more like "begged." He begged me to move in with him. He made all of these promises of a wonderful life with wonderful benefits and he would do anything I wanted to make the house "my own."
I knew then, as I know now that the potential of happiness would have been impossible. We were two different people living on two different planets. Our few hours a week of visiting was enough for both of us. Many trial and error runs of such a predicament happened years priors; developing our relationship through fights and anger.
I am reading a book about a woman who's father commit suicide when she was only four. She spent her adult years "assembling" him. The name of the book is "Assembling my Father." She speaks of ways they are connected. By opening his journal, she felt connected knowing he once held the same moleskin and poured his soul into it. By seeing and experiencing the home movies and photographs, she could read the expressions and person he was. I feel the same way about the things I continuously learn about my father. Although I lost him when I was twenty three, I feel as though I am finding him more and more. He is the puzzle I meant to solve, the emotion I meant to harbor, and the mistakes I'm meant to learn.
Onto my story...
That book screamed a very loud message into my head. A message I've heard many times before, however, this one seemed to sear a mark into my memory that will remain with me forever. My father is gone. He is no more. I can not change that or bring him back. I can not see his face or hear his voice. I can not hug him goodnight. At that moment, I could not breathe. The wind was knocked right out of me, knowing, all I have of my father is his DNA floating around in my body. That is the only hard evidence of his physical existence.
Tears had formed at the brim of my eyes. For that split second, I couldn't breathe. I had forgotten how. I was so tempted to lean over and wake Bryan up, just to hold me and let me fall asleep before him, like I did so many times following the death. For the first time since last November, I felt alone, without guidance or someone to look up to like I have for the last years of my father's life.
For the first time since his death, I knew that I had not told him all I wanted to tell and I had not asked him all I wanted to know. I was not resolved to his death. The feeling being burdened with all of this emotion finally caught up to me and I couldn't express it to the one person who mattered--him.
Since that night, I have wondered if I took him up on his offer of a new life and a new home, would things have been different? Would he not have fallen into that deep depression that led him to the bars every night? Would he have taken on new adventures and a new outlook having me there? Could I have prevented his sudden and spiraling downfall?
What would we have talked about on those cold nights by the fireplace? What plans would we make? Would he teach me all he knows for the better of my survival in life? Would I have fixed and built and learned new things?
These thoughts, I keep to myself. I hone them, repainting the pictures in my memory. No one can take these away from me as I keep them locked deep inside with the rest of the things I fear saying aloud. I keep them on a high shelf, dusting and waxing so they become the greatest shining trophies in my cabinet.
I am taking on the persona of the woman in the memoir. My mind is focused on learning, building, and reconstructing the quiet, private man that was my father. It is as if I took a picture of him, ripped it up, and put it back together, meticulously with the finest adhesive and shiniest of coating, to maintain and preserve it, to place that trophy under lock and key in the cabinet of fear I harbor.
So, this is me, just shining my trophy collection.