I was 24 and as prepared as I was going to be. I’d played this moment out in my head nearly a hundred times. “He’ll be ok. I’ll be ok.” I talked myself into believing that it was normal and that he had lived a full life. He watched me graduate college a year earlier. He had watched his kids play football and taught and coached us up on the game. He had given us the joy and appreciation of music. He taught me how to fish. He taught me what hard work was and how to laugh your way through it. He taught me about about “common sense”. He was the best dad anyone could have asked for.
Then I got the call from Trey and everything changed. All the things he won’t get to experience flooded my mind. My kids, my wedding, my wife. When I graduated he threw me a huge wad of cash and said “congrats, but you got another gradution to go“. We never really talked about going to grad school but at that moment, I decided I was going and I promised him I would. Now he won’t get to see me graduate. He won’t get to tell my kids all of the stories I was too young to remember. I’ve had a nickname since I was a baby that nobody has ever called me. Many people don’t even know. My dad hardly ever called me by my name. He always called me Moon. I know its hard for others to understand, but for me its the one of the most joyous memories I have.
If I close my eyes, I can see him in the hospital, sick, dying and unable to comprehend his reality. He’s having flashbacks in his dreams of Vietnam and he’s cussing and fighting in his sleep. I’m terrified, as I stand and watch for 15 minutes and hold back the tears. Then I suddenly open my mouth and creak out a deep scared voice. “Dad its me“. His glazed over eyes peel open and he stares at the far wall. He’s already gone, I’m thinking. He looks around slowly, confused and disoriented. Then the glassy sliver of his brown eyes hit mine.
“Moon,” he mumbles and reaches out his hand. His eyes fold back underneath their lids and his grey beard can’t hide his slight smile. I’m not sure what he was trying to mumble after that but I had heard all I needed to hear.
For two months after he passed away, 4 years ago today, I was numb. I went throuugh the motions as robotically as one could imagine. I didn’t want to think, I didn’t want to cry, I just wanted to be ok. Then one night…I talked to him. I talked to him like I never had when he was alive. I told him him why I was sad and why I was mad. What I had learned and what I still didn’t understand. Then I stood up, and something was different.
I stopped asking questions and started thinking. My dad always taught me to think about what I do and why things happen and how I can influence my situations. To call him analytical and pensive is to put it lightly. I soon came to realize, I was not very much different.
When I was forced to think about the memories because that’s all I had left of him, I started to see so much more. The never ending classroom that was the world he raised me in. All of his hobbies are my hobbies now. All of the boring four hour talks that occured after my teachers called home, now sprang to life and housed lessons I never saw before. Many of the words he thought were falling upon deaf uninterested ears are now ringing clearer than he’d ever intended.
We tell each other we miss you often but why? We can always see each other. We can hug each other. We can hear each others laughter. We can tell each other we love you. It would seem that I would miss my dad but that’s really not the case. That night I stood up, I realized something. My dad is missing nothing. He is experiencing everything I am and he is smiling as hard as he did the day I was born. He is proud and he is excited.
His Moon is shining.