I just returned from the store to pick up a few things for my best friend, sick with a cold. He’ll get better soon. My sense of time, however, has been noticeably slowed, altered inward. My pace was slow, my walk back in the house to put away the few things and serve up an Alka-Seltzer was surreal almost. The sky, like my mind, is overcast and can’t seem to make up its mind what it wants to do, but I sense a storm is coming and perhaps is already here.
I’d received the phone call not a half hour ago. Now home, it’s quiet and my best friend at times like these is not the headcold in the other room, but my keyboard. It summons me to write that which I cannot yet feel. It’s too early to cry and too late to do all the things I suddenly feel the urge to do as I anticipate the worst and know that time is suddenly and irreversibly at a premium.
He was just in town last week for a few days with mom. We had breakfast and chatted about their move back to Vegas next month. The packing, the sale and purchase of their homes, their aging bones and efforts now in their 70s, but until now, I have considered my dad to be immortal.
I fear the doctor will advise me different in the morning. However, I can’t wait for the second phone call to begin to tell the story of Mike Miller…
It’s quite possible that the morning’s news will abruptly render the start to this story null and void, relegated to a new lead some time in the future. My prayers hope this. But for many months now, I’ve begun this story over and over in my mind. I have never been sure how it would begin and rather than waiting for the event to begin it when my mind will surely be clouded and my heart deeply saddened, now is the time.
Not knowing at this point is worse than knowing, I think. I wish I could divine the thoughts and words of the internist who will meet with dad in a peculiarly urgent morning meeting so I could know. Why? I don’t know. Nothing would be different. Things wouldn’t change.
I think everyone deserves a living eulogy. I wrote my own months ago and sealed it for reading when the day comes. I’d rather write about my dad when my mind does not know anything more than it does at this moment. Sadness necessarily dims the color of emotion when I write. And there are way too many very wonderful thoughts running through my mind to wash out with bad news.
Life means so much.
I often credit the lyricist/musician, Chris Rice, with the inspiration for my website of the same name. I come dangerously close to idolizing him. But in the most lucid thought I can muster at the moment, I can reveal that it was and always has been my father. Nobody knows this until now.
After my years of addiction, the first year I emerged clean was in the fall of 2011, about two months before my father’s 72nd birthday. I wrote a story on my website about that day and how I was moved about stories where fathers had been true heroes for their children when I had not.
I never told the story of my own hero until now.
His name is Dennis. Few know this. Born Dennis Michael Miller, he’s been known only as Mike for his entire life. I have often wondered why but never bothered to ask. I wrote it off to the Henry/Hank thing.
I took a break there for awhile. The task or honor of recalling my dad as a hero and an inspiration in my life was too overwhelming. In fact, I feel rather selfish here at my computer pounding out words to try to express my feelings while I know at this very moment, 300 miles away from me in a place he calls home, his own mind and heart have to be miserable. I would be in a car or on a bus at this moment if I was able but because of my own mistakes, I can’t travel.
I need to stop here a moment and recapture my senses and call upon some hope that I won’t be losing my dad anytime soon. It’s not even bedtime and I can feel the insomnia of thought anticipating what the call in the morning might bring.
I’m gonna call it a night at least for the moment and try to go to sleep, yet I know my mind well and it won’t let me rest easy. Dad, if you could hear me, I would give anything to be by your side tonite and tomorrow morning.
It’s now tomorrow morning. Up at 237am, customary for me, but I’ve been up writing a eulogy in my dreams all night.
I remember my dad, years ago, in his morbid sense of humor for which he is widely known, saying “If I ever get news that I’m gonna die of cancer, I’m gonna buy a pack of Lucky Strikes and a beer and start having fun again.” He quit smoking many years ago.
Sitting here at 3am with my coffee, very selfishly, I ask myself what I might regret when my dad is gone. Because of the time in my life at present, the first that comes to mind are the many years during which I voluntarily lost contact with my parents due to my addictive lifestyle. Many important things happened with and for them during those years, of which I was not a part or not included. I’ve worked hard to rebuild with him.
The news came to me while at work this morning around 10am. It was my dad’s call to me and in no uncertain terms and without much humor, he told me he was going to die. Inoperable metastatic cancer. My first morbid thought back was to buy him a pack of Lucky Strikes.
Over the next weeks and months, the hero I call Dad will be on my mind and in my words in the early morning hours when I sit here and write in silence. Day 1 is coming to a close and the ball is rolling to plan for his life until and his memory after.
His life would make an incredible book.
I just hope for a few more chapters.