Editor’s Note: This was written to be published last year but, alas, it was not. The why is because many things were happening. Many changes, many adjustments, many repressed, many too much. I’ll never force myself through putting something out here on Tales just to do it. So know now that it’s time.
I say that I miss you and more and more, every year, it feels like I’m saying that to nothing at all. To myself and an otherwise empty room. I tried for a long while to pretend like there was something about you that lingered, like a piece of you was still hovering here somewhere with me. But I don’t feel that anymore. Or rather, I don’t trick myself into feeling it anymore. Why would you ever have come back here?
I do still feel the loss sometimes. The emptiness. The difference. I don’t remember most days but then when I do it’s in waves of anger, always ending on a begging question, the closure point to end the momentary relapse, the push back into accepting defeat. Why did you leave me?
You are the particular space that no one and nothing else will fill. Year after year I’m learning what it is to be on my own without you. Without your soul, your being, your life. Faced with the temporality that you were and now are not but that I still am and some day won’t be. Different people have different fears but that is decidedly the most significant of mine. Another conversation for another day.
You’ve never known me now, Papa. You never knew so much of this life that I’ve built for myself. You never came here. Never saw this place that I’ve turned into a home, albeit another temporary one. If you did, the pool would have been your favorite part. You loved the sun. We would have visited together and talked, but talked of nothing at all. Parting ways at the end of every night with a kiss to your cheek, a promise to see you in the morning.
I often wonder what you’d think of this life that I live. What you’d think of me. I don’t know that you’d have any particularly strong thoughts, if I’m being honest. But it took me a while to settle in that. You had so many quietly uncommunicated expectations of me and I went out and I achieved them all. But we never, not once, ever talked about them. Which leaves me now to wonder what else? What else did you see for me? Want from me? Want for me?
You never told me. You never gave me the rest of the plan. When you were here we walked my path together, then when you left I felt shoved right off the side of it. I remembered enough, the direction of the twists and turns we still had up ahead to keep me going for a little ways, but now here I stand beside Alice and her pup, watching it sweep the forest floor into nothing while patiently waiting for you, my guide, to reappear and show me what I’m supposed to make of me.
Do you want me settled, with someone who will settle themselves with and for me? Do you want me searching for the one that is the absolute, the soul piece? Do you want me with children, to grow and adore? Do you want me in a career that puts money above all else, or all else above money? Do you want comfort? Do you want success? Do you want happiness?
You’ve made it incredibly difficult to live this life for me when I’ve spent so much of it living always and forever for you. But I’m trying. Standing here in this unknown forest, moving onward in a way that I can only hope is the way. I’m learning. Learning to change things and choose things. But I still wonder what you’d think. Your silence feels so indefinitely loud. I still want you here front row to every change and every choice. Here for all of it. Here to tell me what you want. You are my soul, and my being, and my heart, and my home.
But now my life is what it is, and I am who I am. I’ll grow on without you.