Do you know I had wild flowers for you that day Dad
? Before you were the first one to leave? I was not in kindergarten yet. I went with Mum for the daily trip to the hospital. I asked her to stop by the side of the road and picked them carefully. They were in my hand as we walked up the hospital hall and we heard crazed, desperate
screaming. ‘Who is that?’ mum asked astonished. ‘your husband’. The doctor
s were so kind to me that day. They pulled me away from Mum, who thought she had to say her last goodbye
s. They brought me to a small lounge. They had coffee and I had apple juice. They were probably pretty busy
Dad, but they had so much time on that particular day to hear my name
, my age
, and all my stories
. I don’t remember their faces. Mum came back, so sad and we left as I clutched the wild flowers wilting in my hand.
One thing I don’t remember, Dad, is the last day I saw you. The last time the ambulance took you away. The last thing you did was play a game of ‘Crazy 8s’ with your youngest daughter. Your wife told me she sobbed as she watched you mechanically lay down your cards while I was just thrilled that someone was playing with me. I’m so sorry I forgot that but one day after that, after fighting Cancer for two years, you were the first person to leave.
I remember the neighborhood husbands taking over your son’s paper route so he had time for his grief. I remember he tried so hard to help me. He coached my soccer team, went on school field trips as a parental guardian, accepted my father’s day gifts. He was only 18, but he was a dad. I guess it was too much for him. I didn’t understand why at the time, but he had to be the second person to leave.
Your oldest daughter felt so bad for being afraid of you during your illness. She tried her best to make up for it. She made us dinner all the time because mum worked such long hours. She brought me to high school with her. She brought me shopping with her friends. I used to sit under her desk while she studied and I ‘helped’. We were best friends but she was also another parent. She was more strict and protective of me than a mother. She was just a teenager though, and had to live her own life. She was the third person to leave.
And… your wife, she tried her best. Your so-called friends pursued her after you died. One gave her a job to support us. One left his wife for her. He was not an evil man. We went to exotic destinations on holidays, to his yacht on weekends. We moved into an estate in the country with apple trees and two kitchens. I was a guest in the house, I had to be polite. He was not an evil man but not a kind man. He gave us no choice. We had to leave, but this one does not count.
With your wife, a lonely, single mum, the scotch and the gin flowed. I was 14 and free. I could do what I wanted. No one knew where I was. I came home whenever. Lots of times, when I did make it home, she was passed out on the floor. I helped her onto her bed and dressed her. I cleaned her up, helped her avoid embarrassment. She was the fourth person to leave.
But you know what Dad? I know all four had to leave but…Everybody but you came back. They are different, but they came back. Your wife does not drink anymore and she fell in love with a poor but kind man. Your oldest daughter has her own family to make dinner for, and your son takes on more responsibility than anyone else, as a surgeon who saves lives. They all came back, but they came back different and that is fine with me. They were able to forget and be casual.
And here I am, the only one missing the first one who left, with these flowers, these wild flowers I never had a chance to give you. With the card game I forgot. I hardly forget anything anymore Dad. I missed you for my whole life Dad. I prove myself over and over and over again Dad, hoping to impress you. Some people think it is sad but it is beautiful. I went to school on full-scholarship Dad. I speak three languages Dad. I’ve read all your favorite authors Dad. I have a good job Dad. I’ve had a lot of help from people Dad - sometimes I forget their faces and sometimes I love them. I do stupid, undignified things sometimes Dad but I learn from my mistakes. I will never leave and I will never forget and be casual. If you want to find your flowers, they’ll always be right here with me.