I went to work the following day. I got up at six-thirty in the morning like I always did, I solemnly dressed myself and I hopped on the Manhattan bound subway en route to 5th avenue and 36th street. I’m fairly certain, if my memory doesn’t fail me, I ate breakfast and I had my coffee just like every other normal work morning.
The thing about this particular morning four years ago, however, was that I was in mourning. My dad had died, taken his last breath, a mere ten hours prior to the eerie conduction of my daily routines. I couldn’t think of a better plan than to do exactly what I normally would have done if my dad was still alive, had there not just been a death in my family. Or perhaps, the fact was that I wasn’t thinking about much else at all – I was just simply going through the motions per se.
The interesting and for lack of better words, inconvenient, thing about death is that even if it’s fairly expected, there is no guidebook that explains the aftermath, the whole stimulus-response outcome. It’s not like cancer, for example. I vividly recall sitting in the waiting room of the Kansas City Cancer Center reading extensive, informational “what to expect” and “how to cope” literature for those diagnosed and their loved ones while my dad received radiation on his brain where a tumor was vigorously attacking his cerebellum. There’s a stimulus – chemotherapy can cause nausea and there’s a response – eat these types of foods to minimize the side effects of this toxicity being pumped into your veins.
I get it – everyone handles death differently. No loss is the same – yada yada yada. But wouldn’t it be fucking nice to have a pamphlet handed to you when shit like this occurs? Your father has passed away. Here is how you deal: insert short list of socially acceptable and permanently relieving responses to the death of a parent.
I know I sound like a sarcastic jackass but I suppose this could be deemed my socially unacceptable, temporarily relieving response to this fucking day that I have experienced every fucking April now for the past four, fucking years. And my over usage of the f-word is my momentary release of anger that motivates me to write this and to get up and go to work in the morning after my dad dies and every day after that and every year after that.
I miss him. I really do. We may have not had the best relationship by any definition of the word but I think that’s part of the reason why I miss him so goddamned much. I believe we could have had a better relationship if he’d had more time on this Earth. But time is a fucking motherfucker – it’s a mind fuck of an illusion and one of the many reasons why a day doesn’t pass where thoughts of mortality do not cross my mind, where I don’t mull over the philosophy of life and death.
I can deduce all of the above to everything happening for a reason and in doing so, I can tell you that one of the most valuable lessons I learned from all of it is to never use, “There’s always tomorrow” or “This can wait” or any other variation of time-related expressions because quite frankly, there may not be a tomorrow and what are we waiting for exactly?
I wonder if my dad thought or said aloud that Sunday, April 10th in 2011, “I can take care of this tomorrow.” He, unfortunately, didn’t have a tomorrow. In fact, he was about an hour and a half shy of another tomorrow. If we’re inevitably going to utilize time as a deciding factor in our lives and in our actions, then we should use it as if we’re all going to be an hour and a half shy of another tomorrow.