I need to spill these words before I start my work day. Some words are just like that – brimming and ready to come out like tears; distracting to the point that they must leave the brain.
Fifteen years ago right now, in this very hour, I was at work when my boss came to get me. My sister-in-law (two sisters-in-law ago) and our family friend were at my workplace. I was confused for a few moments, then I realized that my dad had died.
That day and the days that followed, the burial service in knee deep snow on a hillside facing Mount Rushmore, and the dawn of my fatherless life were the things that always gave this day its sting. No more. Those artifacts are now the stony doorway between my childhood and the life I live today. They are the milestones that mark the beginning of my fatherless life.
This morning I find myself with insistent tears not because my father died. All fathers die, and mine died a long time ago. I find my eyes wet because of the enormity of fifteen years and all the living I’ve done without my father. From my college graduation not long after his death to the birth of my children to the publication of my first book. All of these events and almost all of my adulthood evolved and flourished in my fatherless state.
I miss my dad often. I miss the grounding force he was in my life and the lives of all of his children. It seems like after he died we came undone and floated off like so many untethered balloons to find our own way in the world. Balloons, not pigeons; we were not to be called back home. And even as I’ve accomplished a great deal in my free float and my life is not without purpose, there is something about the string that was cut to set me so free that gives me pain now that I am so far from where I began and where my father’s life ended. He was home and there is no going home again. That is the enormity of loss one feels but never quite comprehends at the beginning of the end – it keeps ending, even after fifteen years.