I awoke at six-thirty like I did every Monday morning, I solemnly dressed myself and I hopped on the Manhattan bound subway en route to work. I ate breakfast and I had my coffee just like every other normal work morning. And after work, I ventured to Korea town to sample some delicious pastries from a favorite bakery among the midtown locals until finally, I arrived home to go to sleep and do it all over again the following day.
The thing about this particular day five years ago, however, was that my dad had died, taken his last breath, a mere ten hours prior to the eerie conduction of my daily routine. 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 within my immediate family. Or perhaps, the fact was that I wasn’t thinking about much else at all – I was just simply going through the motions.
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 with stimulus-response bullet points. 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” pamphlets for those diagnosed and their loved ones while my dad received radiation on his brain where a tumor, caused by the stage four lung cancer, 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 the toxicity being pumped into your veins.
I fucking get it – everyone handles death differently. No loss is the same – yada yada yada. But wouldn’t it be fucking nice to have some literature 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 five, 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 not have 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. If nothing else, it’s certainly motivating.
I can deduce all of the above to that fucking overused, irritating cop-out of an expression: everything happens for a reason. In doing so, I can also tell you that one of the most valuable lessons I learned from it all is to never use, “There’s always tomorrow” or “This can wait” or any other variation of time-related jargon 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 10, 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.