The thing I remember about those first days, the thing I mostly remember at this moment, is the nights and how long they felt. Not that first night because I was in the airport taking a very late flight when my aunt called me about my Pops death. That first night, I nearly dropped into the bed after negotiating our first flight with Bryce. Carrying things takes a toll on the body, and even holding the news of my father’s death, sleep took me in for those next hours like an attentive lover.
I sensed something, some knowing, less than a week prior. I had a burst of conviction to see him. I knew I would travel the week of Christmas. I wanted to see him though. I felt like I had to. I had been driving down to Arkansas, at least, monthly since his stroke. The last visit was literally a last-minute decision. I got a car, drove the 10 hours, and was pressing a button on the door of a specialty hospital after winding through Google’s crazy directions which took me through unlit roads from the interstate in very dark country.
I won’t write about that moment. But I will say that six days later when he died, that dark night driving came back to me. It’s the dark, lengthy nights that sit with me when I first get into the memories of my father’s death, the bitterness of it, and when I start to get back to the other recollections of his life.
The nights where I lay in the bed crying and wondering why the world wasn’t doing the same thing, wondering how anybody could sleep after the death of my father. The nights where I had no soul company, where I couldn’t relate to anyone, and where my reality was so unique, so different from my four brothers or from my mother. The night where I knew there were people near me but where I felt so far away.
My father’s death was an entrance for me into a qualitatively different depth, one I would gladly give back if I could. It was the one grim event in my adulthood that has framed the rest. His death brought a reference point for all my subsequent dark nights. There is more to say. There will be more to say, and there will be nothing to say, many moments when there is absolutely nothing to say.
I will be with you in the darkness. I will be with you from a distance and I’ll be with you occasionally up close. You, like me, won’t be alone. You’ll be cloaked with others even when you’ll feel that particular separation that will lodge somewhere in you far down. You are anything but alone.