I feel a bit nostalgic tonight as I remember the nights I was allowed to wait up for my mom to get home from working second shift at the factory. I touch on it a little on stage; it really was just my mother and me growing up.
My father loved the idea of having a baby, just not the thought of raising a kid. Make sense? He wanted a house but not a mortgage, a sports car but no speeding tickets, he wanted a kitten—pretty much just something he could cuddle with, but my father hated cats. My mom should have known better from the start…He already had 3 cats from a previous marriage that he didn’t have custody of.
Don't get me wrong; I'm not bashing my father, he was a great man. There are tons of pictures of us from ages 1-3. Then there are empty rolls of film till age 12, when he passed away. I didn't know much about my father aside that he liked boxing, tom petty and golf. People know more about strangers on match.com now a day than I do about my father.
When we did start to connect, he soon passed. We had plans to go see a car show in town. I was fully prepared to act like I gave a fuck about cars if he was willing to act like he gave a fuck to hang out with me. It was an even trade. He would try and show me boxing moves and golf swings but I was way more interested in making mini-movies with my Lego figures and X-Men toys. It wasn't his fault, nothing was—I don't blame him. I really have no anger towards him, at all. Actually, I have more regret for not opening my eyes and being more present in the moments he was around. I think that can be said about anyone who passed away in our lives, though.
It was March, and it was cold, but the sun was out just enough to give you hope. Mom was cooking breakfast and I came down stairs when I smelled the French toast. Breakfast food works as my bat signal, I drop everything and come running - still do.
I remember wanting to play a prank on my buddy who was coming over later but was convinced dad would ruin it since he wasn't awake to get in on the joke. We laughed about what dad would say on accident—his cluelessness would surely unravel the story I was building. Breakfast was almost ready, and mom yelled for my father to wake up and join us. She hollered a couple times more before growing tired and told me to go wake him up.
His forehead was ice cold, his body was still, and he looked so peaceful. My father had some vices; but for once, he looked completely at peace. Things moved in slow motion and fast-forward at the same time. This man, this stranger…he was still my father. I stood there as frozen as hom for what seemed like years. My mother realized we’d been missing for several minutes and came to check on us. And there we were…stuck in time. Trapped in a moment full of emotions too overwhelming for a twelve-year-old boy to endure.
I’ve never seen my mother panic like that. She began to shake him and say his name over and over again, nothing changed. Even though my father did not treat her the best, she deeply loved him and was seemed not only to try to shake him back to life, but shake him free of his vices that led him down this path. He was a drinker, a smoker and a late night toker, oh and he also would go back and forth between his ex wife and my mother. She instructed me to stay there as she ran next door to my grandmother's house, but I didn't listen. I ran right behind her and came to the door just in time to hear the words that changed my life... "Craig is dead!".
Dead. Dead is a word you really don't understand at twelve. I mean you know what it means but not what it entails. I didn't cry, I didn't scream, I didn't really move. I went numb. I didn't cry for days, not even at the funeral. I thought I was some kind of monster for not crying, why wasn't this effecting me?
Three days after the funeral my mother and I were talking about random things and out of nowhere I started to cry. Well, no, I began to uncontrollably ball my eyes out. It really hit me that he wasn't coming home, that I would never get a chance to truly know my father.
The feeling that overcame me was colder than any day in March and more numbing than the moment I found him.
Its the same feeling you get right as you strap into a roller coaster. "Fuck, I hope I survive this." I couldn't stop crying. I tried to go back to school and couldn't contain myself, fake smiling as my world was falling apart.
This wasn't divorce; this was death.