You know those commercials for pain relievers, like Advil or HeadOn, that show an illustration of a generic human body and red throbbing spots where the pain is supposed to be? Lately I’ve been feeling like my entire body consists of those throbbing red spots when I think about how much I miss my dad. I feel like everyone can tell when this happens, like it’s written all over my face what I’m thinking: Dad. Dad. Dad. Ow. Miss my dad. Dad. Dad. Dad. Ow. He’s really gone. Dad. Dad. Dad. Ow.
This leads me to the scientific conclusion that to miss someone so much to the point of physical pain, to the point where it is the only emotion you are capable of feeling for a significant amount of time, and not being able to do a damn thing about it, is the worst feeling in the world.
I know it’s normal to miss him. I also know it’s probably not that obvious to everyone when I’m having a “moment”, and if it is they probably just don’t want to make me feel worse. But I almost wish it were that obvious and that someone would ask me about it because I just don’t have a clue what to do when this feeling comes over me. If I open my mouth to say anything, anything at all, tears will spill out and will not stop. If I try to push it to the back of my mind, I’m “bottling it up” or whatever.
For example, I got hit with a real whammy this week. I was looking for something in my Loyola email account and I didn’t realize how far back my sent messages folder went. In that folder I found tons of emails between my dad and I—emails about Parents Weekend, emails about my car (he was always emailing me about my car), emails about nothing at all. Forgive me for using a cliche but I cannot think of a more accurate way to describe my reaction; it hit me like a ton of bricks. I was at work and wasn’t even having a particularly bad day, in fact I was still sort of on my vacation high from the previous week, and the second I saw his words on the screen my mood plummeted. It seemed impossible to me that the man who wrote these messages would never write anything ever again, was no longer physically in my life. But I couldn’t embrace the pain. I couldn’t just get a good cry out, something I haven’t done in a while. Instead I had to dry my eyes, close the window, go to a meeting and act like I was fine just fine, as usual. I could have collapsed on the floor of my cubicle and stayed there for hours.
Another day this week I was listening to my new favorite Pandora radio station, the Four Seasons. Now I knew what I was doing when I created this station, I was practically asking for it. There may as well have been a pop-up window asking “Kate, are you sure you want to create this station? You will hear songs that remind you of your father, and you will hear you and your father’s song. Click Yes to continue or No to cancel”. Still, hearing what we so fondly referred to as “the dum-dum song”, also known as Come Go With Me by The Del Vikings, was unexpected in that particular moment. I tried so hard not to cry; I told myself to stay calm, to just listen to the song, to remember him singing it to me, to imagine him telling me I will be okay, some day. That kind of worked, I mean I didn’t cry, but still. Ouch.
I thought of him a lot last week while I was on my cruise because we went on so many vacations together and he taught me a lot about traveling. I pictured him sitting next to me on the pool deck complaining about the extreme heat, guessing where the waiters were from based on their accents, instructing me not to purchase alcohol because it wasn’t included. I could practically hear him singing and clapping along to the dance shows (especially the rock-and-roll/Motown one), off-key of course. That was almost a good kind of missing him though because it actually made me crack a smile. Besides, the perfect weather and dazzling beaches were pretty fantastic distractions.
But what if I start to forget things? What if some day I can’t even remember what his voice sounded like? I won’t forget what he looked like because I have trillions of pictures, and I will never forget the way he spoke (or wrote) because of those emails and so many items I have with his handwriting on them. (Unexpectedly seeing his handwriting on something often gives me a miniature heart attack, though). But I will never hear his voice again. I’m only 23, I am going to miss this man for the rest of my life. Do you have any idea how intimidating that is?