We had your unveiling on Wednesday. The lovely cantor from Gates of Prayer spoke so beautifully about mourning and remembering. I also spoke (perhaps you overheard?), and here’s what I said:
“It’s hard to believe that almost a year has passed since you passed away. Things obviously feel different today than they did in January. The shock has worn off a bit. It’s easier to get through the day and even the week without crying. This is of course not to say that I don’t still miss you terribly. In fact, I miss you more now than I did then because now it’s actually been almost a year since I’ve seen you. But something else that is different today is that I can already feel my memory of you fading just a tad. All this year, I could hear your voice and your laugh, even the way you would always clear your throat. I could see your funny expressions and the way your eyes would light up. This was all so incredibly vivid, but it’s becoming less so. I don’t want to forget you, and of course I know I won’t. But that is why I have started to record my memories of you. You were such a special person and such a character, not one to be easily forgotten, but I don’t want to risk it.”
Afterwards, I asked everyone to help me remember by sharing their stories about you over lunch. We had a great time laughing and reminiscing. I will soon start to share their stories in these letters.
Your headstone looks beautiful by the way. I think you would like it, what with the Bob Dylan quote and everything. I had a hard time choosing a quote, but I thought you’d like “It’s life and life only” from “It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding).” I’ve thought long and hard about that quote and how it applies to you. For me, it captures the idea that life is everything and nothing at the same time. You certainly would have agreed with that concept, but unfortunately you couldn’t live by it. You spent most of your time stressing out in the “life is everything” part of the spectrum. I wish you could have sometimes let things go, relaxed and enjoyed life. Remember that amazing scene (I know you do) in Risky Business when Tom Cruise says “What the fuck?” I wish you could’ve sometimes said “What the fuck” and enjoyed yourself for a change.
Charlie pointed out to me that you used to have so much fun. I loved hearing about just how eccentric you were, bringing your two afghans into class with you in college. It’s fun to try to picture that, but it’s difficult. I wish I could’ve known you then. The you I did know was amazing, don’t get me wrong, but I wish you could’ve let a few things roll off your back every now and then. You could absolutely never do that, and our relationship suffered as a result.
We could’ve been so much closer if I could’ve spoken more freely with you. I stopped talking to you about anything serious because I knew that if I didn’t watch what I said so carefully, I could easily set you off. With something as small as a word, a nuance or a half smile, I would inadvertently worry you, stress you out or even anger you, so I started watering down our conversations, until there was nothing left. I was so tired of fighting. It felt good to end the fighting, but it cost me our relationship. I’m so incredibly sorry, Dad.
Writing these letters to you makes me feel quite a bit better, but I wish I could go back and tell you everything. I just hope you’re somehow able to hear me now.