It took nine months for me to miss my dad.
There were flashes; I remember the first time I saw something funny happen and knew that he would be the only person as amused as I was. I actually picked up the phone and started to dial before remembering that there was no one on the other end of that call. Sitting at lunch with a friend, I told a funny story about my childhood and the pang of loss rippled through me like the lingering aftershocks of a notable seismic event. But the moments were always short-lived and often poisoned by the anger and confusion that his death caused.
Finally, though, I miss my dad. I miss his laugh. I miss the funny faces he would make when you tried to take a picture of him, and the ridiculous pose he’d strike as he facetiously challenged an aggressor with the interogative, “You wanna fight?” I miss the smell of waking up on Saturday morning to waffles and gravy and the exasperation of finding that he’d used every dish in the kitchen. I miss the sound of his heartbeat as I laid my head on his chest while watching a movie. I’d convince my parents to let me stay up past my bedtime, though I think they knew that I’d fall asleep halfway through and bedtime would be preserved.
I miss baby-fives, the only thing that was truly ours. He had big, strong hands that dwarfed my own even as I entered adulthood. When I was a child, he would gather his fingers together, the small grouping just the right size to match my tiny fingers. It became our symbol, something sacred for just us.
I miss the way he smelled. He wore the same cologne for years (except for that horrible Old Spice phase, but we try to forget about that). Brut, in the green bottle. It doesn’t smell the same when it’s not mixed with his body chemistry, but I’ll recognize that scent for the rest of my life.
It’s good, this pain of missing him. There is a homesickness for an earlier, simpler time. A time before I understood just how strong I could be. A time before I bore the weight of my dad’s actions. The pain is similar to the exhaustion of a hard day’s work; it hurts, but it means that progress has been made. I’ve been living in a haze of numbness for months, unable to feel much of anything.
So I guess this is a start…