I'm just counting down the minutes now.
Some years it hits harder than others. This year it's riding in on a wave of dread, or something like anticipation.
Nine years ago, some time right about now, as I type, my sister Anne and I were getting in the Zeiger's car to drive to some hospital around Chicago. Colleen and Dave and Laura were there. I remember that Laura apologized for coming along, but neither Anne nor I would have none of that. I remember sleeping along the way, then waking up when we were almost there. We walked through a long stream of hospital corridors, going from one section to another. I don't remember feeling anything. It was just like, we were doing what we were doing. Then we got in an elevator, and went up. It all seemed so labyrinthine.
And the elevator doors opened, and they were all right there. Mom and his brothers and their families, and she cried "Oh, kids, he's dead!"
And Anne screamed "No!" and started crying, and I sat down in the chair that was right next to the elevator, where I stared off into space. Someone tried to take me along to see the body, practically carrying me, and all I said was "No, no," and I don't know that there was anything specific thing I was rejecting to: that I was going to see the corpse, that he was gone, that this could actually be some kind of reality, because nothing about what was going on seemed real. And then, I got one brief look at the body and turned around screaming. It was dark in the room and the was a sheet over him and his face wasn't moving, nor his chest, and you could already tell that whatever had been there that was actually him was gone and what was there on that table or that bed was just what remained. There was no point in seeing it, because he wasn't there. And he would never be there again.
After that, It's all more feeling than event. I remember that I was sitting most of the time in a chair on the opposite side of the elevator room from the elevator. I remember that Laura was crying, and I remember, in some weird way, feeling grateful for that. I remember either Danny or Rick worrying about how "Stan," their father, would take it (this would be the third of his five children he would have to watch go into the ground). I remember that he used his given name, as if the moment had stripped away the importance of honorifics. I remember driving back, home, saying I would go to the model UN the next day. I couldn't tell why, really, then or now. Part of it was the weird fear of grades and odd belief that such things would not be considered when calculating grades. Another was that dad had said expressed remorse over dinner, on the night before he left for the procedure, that he would not get to go to it, it being one of those things parents attended, and I wanted there to be an actual thing for him to miss, like he thought there would be. Another, is that I didn't want to go back the next day and see the body, and I just needed something to get the fucking lance out of brain, just to try to get away with it, though I really couldn't. When I go home, I screamed and collapsed on my bookshelf and slid to the ground. Eventually I was so exhausted from the emotional tension, that I actually slept for about three hours.
Then I woke up and went to UN. I told everybody I knew that my father had died. John Rudolph hugged me, and that was the most anybody was ever able to do to comfort me.
After that, I hung out with my friends from Drama, and they were determined to cheer me up. We made plans to go out at night. I went home, and Greg P from Dad's work was cooking Spaghetti sauce, with meatballs, and as I entered he shook my hand. There were a lot more people there, from all over the place, and I was happy to see all of them. But I went straight upstairs and took off the red tie I had been wearing, which was one of Dad's, and tied it about the baseball-bat-shaped tied rack that dad had made me when I was a kid, and started crying again.
I went out with the guys that night. We went to a mall that had a used records store, and I bought my first Butthold Surfers album, Independent Worm Saloon. I got to ride with Alex in his Corvette on the way home, and we listened to it and laughed, it was so weird. And then I went home.
I sometimes wonder about who I would be if that hadn't happened. I am pretty sure I never would have picked drumming back up, because that was very definitely a some kind of unexplainable response. I think I would have eventually started writing though, since I already had the stories bouncing around inside me. I think I would have been more stable, settled, by this point, not still an entry level lifer trying to turn into a person, but somebody with some sense of stability. But maybe not. I've always been fucked up. Maybe I would have been fucked up with Dad too.
It's been nine years. I turn twenty seven in five months. My father has been gone for over a third of my life. Most of the people I know don't know him.
Tomorrow will also be Groundhog Day, and St. Brigit's Day, and James Joyces' and Sir Charles' birthdays. Its the halfway point between the Solstice and the Equinox. Hell of a Day to Die. Still doesn't make sense.