The gulf of time between us is now pre-teen. An expanse of ocean, wisdom and moments all wrapped up in the grandchild you only held once sits before me. She speaks, she reads, she thinks, she grows. And just as she levels up in height, years and age, so too does the space of time since I last squeezed your hand. As her life measures and moves, so too does this space between us. She is a glorious reminder of how far above us you watch, and how much more life continues.
I told myself last year that I wouldn’t write to you this year. That ten years was enough – I needed to let go now. But someone close to me reminded me that I have let you go – I let you go before you went, in fact. The thing is, I don’t have to stop writing to you. There is no statute of limitations on this, and I can write to you and the UM a million-billion times more if I want to. Sometimes I want to, sometimes I don’t want to.
You are still a force to be reckoned with. Yesterday, as she and I were playing a game of Scrabble Dash (you would love it!), I had to play a proper noun and your name formed out of my available letters. She stopped, looked at it and smiled. I stopped, smiled and played my turn. I won that game, but she went on to defeat me in three more. There, right there, you were a force to be reckoned with. You’d find this hilarious.
As a family, we play another game – Rummikub. It’s not one I played as a child, but it’s become one of our Sunday evening family favourites here. I win, a lot, but not enough to lose my humility on it. I’m being kept on my toes here. No idea where these people get it from (spoiler alert: I know it’s you).
We play a lot of table, board and card games here – I think you’d like that about my little triangular family. I think you’d love our dogs too – Jake mostly. He’s your type of hound, while Zoey is the cute yet feisty sort that barks more than she should. I think you’d love them. I hope you would. You’d laugh at how they rule the roost round here. Sometimes, in my woowoohead mind, I think Jake learnt to look at me from you – the way he looks at me like I’m the most ridiculous person he’s ever clapped eyes on – it’s that same expression you’d give me over your glasses. I laugh when it happens.
Dadadad, I’ve not written to you to tell you that I’m getting married. I did, to Mom, but not to you. So, if you wouldn’t mind pitching up round then, it’d be great. I need a dance and someone to march me down the aisle. I’ve got the spot filled already, but if you’d like me to ask them to step aside, just yell and I’ll sort it out. I know he’d agree with me entirely if you suddenly just pitched up. He reminds me more and more of you each day, as I watch him parent a family too. Can I just borrow you and mom for one day, though? Just one. You guys can carry on and have the rest, promise. Heck, I’ll take an afternoon, sunny or not.
(But yes, really. I retract the one-sided argument I tried to have with you about this in 2001. Also, you were right on that whole honey thing. Also the freshly mown grass and the way people smell like home, even when they’ve irritated you to the point of grimace. That waking up in the morning and it’s okay again. It’s funny how I knew. Thank you for telling me how to spot it. I’d probably have missed it entirely, were it not for the roadmap you laid out for me. It has led me home. You have led me home, even when you’re not here).
Dadadadadadad, you’d love this part. The craziness, the noise, the quiet and the soft comfort of a house that’s funny in so many ways. I want to be able to write you into these days – the easy ones and the hard ones, and insert your voice into these conversations. I like to think I don’t have to, because the voice of you still booms across the sky of my life. You’re in the clack of my keys as I type too fast and mutter as I have to backspace the entire word to correct it…because that’s how we do it round here. You’d know.
I miss you forever, plus one. Just one afternoon? See what you can do. Surely you can grab an afternoon after eleven years of good behaviour (oh wait, good behaviour? Hahahahaha). If you can’t make it, just send the feathers. I’ll know.
Keyboard clacks, whisky and eleven full years of this,