Dear Dad // No. 5

Dear Dad,

I meant to write you sooner, but the days got away from me. Do you know what that means? It means that time has slipped through my fingers too quickly and I’ve lost track of it.

I wonder if this is how you feel about your memories. Like you’ve set them down somewhere, like your glasses, and forgotten where you put them. Once J (your youngest son) couldn’t find his glasses, and we searched high and low for them. Finally, someone got hungry and opened the refrigerator door. There they were, tucked between the mayonnaise and the ketchup. We laughed and laughed, and J slipped them on his face and told us all to shut up and leave him alone as he blushed from ear to ear.

You think your memories are like that? Lodged somewhere in the recesses of your mind between the now and the then?

I think about things like that as I drive to work each morning. My commute isn’t long. It takes me over a winding road shaded by old trees whose branches reach for one another from either side of the street, like lovers separated by an unconquerable space. As I drive, I think about me and you, and your memories.

Sometimes I can’t decide which ones to tell you first. Or something will trigger a memory as I sit in a meeting, and I’ll wish I could tell you it right then. I’ll try to hold onto it as long as I can, but somewhere between taking down notes for my job and trying to keep the memory fresh, I lose it.

When people ask me about you, I always aim for the positive. Yes, you’ve recovered. Yes,  you’ve lost no mobility, and your speech is about 90% unaffected. You’re as sweet as can be, even though the doctors warned me that most people are frustrated and angry after suffering a massive stroke like you did. But when they hear that you’ve lost every memory of who you were before October 29, 2013, their eyes grow wide. I can see it on their faces. They don’t know what to say.

So I aim for the positive. I tell them that we have a rare chance that one doesn’t often get in life. We get to start over. Rip out the pages of the history book and start from the beginning. We can write it the way we want to write it now. We can make different choices and be different people. We can take hold of all the emptiness leftover from the memories that have gotten away from us like the days speeding past, and we can fill them with new ones.

We’ll look back together, Dad. We’ll talk about everything that happened and what it meant. We’ll talk about when J was born and C was born. When we moved cross-country (twice). We’ll talk about when we ignored the advice of your beloved I-Ching, and what happened to us because of it. We’ll talk about everything that happened when we were a family.

But let’s not forget to look forward too, Dad. After all, that’s the most important part of the story. It’s the part we’ll write together.

Love,

Ash

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