The immortal man
I’ve got a bunch of weird emotions going on right now. I don’t want to say “I lost someone today.” That sounds too self-centered. Especially since I haven’t talked to my dad’s friend for almost 10 years. But, how do I explain this feeling of loss?
I don’t think he knew how much I revered him as a child. Even in the objectiveness of my adult awareness, I knew how much of a role he played in the development of what a friend was, what a man was, or what an adult was. I’m only realizing now, after he’s gone, that I had blurred those characteristics in with my father; I’m beginning to realize my father figure was not defined by one man, but a collection of interactions with role models. I’m having to mourn the loss of my father (figure), again.
I don’t want to write a eulogy — and I don’t want to take away from his family and friends that knew him so much better and were so much closer and so much better to him. The fact is, I didn’t realize I held him so closely until now. The fact is, I didn’t realize I could lose him until now.
I’ve thought about him often. Every time with a smile at some memory. I failed to mature my relationship with him though, because I never stopped regarding him as the immortal man; the man in my memories. I’d admit to taking him for granted. He’d always be there. He’d always been there in the past. I hadn’t seen him in years before my dad called him up in the middle of a snowstorm to come take us to the emergency room because I had split my finger in half. When my dad was in the hospital, he came and stayed with us. He was present. After my dad passed, he was there for questions about what to do with the house. He was family. He was my dad’s best friend–I have no doubt.
I’m still struggling with not making this about my loss, my failed initiative, my missed opportunities. I’ve found peace in this though – maybe he was in the same situation as me; Maybe he regarded me as the little boy who walked all over his chalk line. Maybe I was still the boy who always chatted with him while he was trying to pour concrete or swing a hammer. If that’s true, then I’ll be proud to never lose the little boy’s adoration for him. Whatever ethereal portion of a father I just lost, the adoration will stay.