The day I lost my dad. 25 years ago, yesterday.
I am kneeling beside my father. He’s dead.
I look at him for a long time. I’ve never seen a dead body before.
I want to memorize his face and hands before he is in the ground.
His mouth is open. His eyes are fixed and wide. He is frozen with a look of surprise. I reach out to touch the back of his neck. My fingers barely land when I feel the prickle of shorn hair and cold, firm flesh.
I immediately withdraw my hand.
I am devastated that he’s gone. I never thought I would feel bad on this day.
My face is numb and tight from the departed tears that I didn’t bother to stop, catch or dry.
His hair is stiff and sharp. It’s cut so close and damaged from the radiation. It’s seems almost burnt.
His nose is pronounced and pointed. When he was healthy, it was round and red, but he’s lost so much weight. It’s chiseled bare.
His cheeks are waxy, melting mounds. Smooth and brown.
His hands are large; dangerous. They are still, yet frightening. The monster strength is gone, but they summon the fear of what was possible, what was done.
He is a mechanic. But he has the cleanest, longest nails I’ve ever seen on a man. The palms are soft and tender, amazingly so.
My hands are close to his. The backs of my hands are rough, pale and dry. White with flakes. My nails are short and torn. Red and sore like my eyes.
I can sense that whatever lights the eye and warms the blood is gone from him. There is no recognition, not even a grimace.
His spirit has sighed away and what is left is just a heap of tumors, bones and bile. He will never talk, kiss, threaten, smoke, curse, drink, hit, hate, love, work, sacrifice, shame or wrestle on this earth again. He can’t hurt any more, but he also can’t fix a thing.
I have lost him. I. Am. Lost.
I love you. I forgive you. I miss you. Still.