This scene has played out in my mind a million times and it still haunts me. I think it’s time to say I’m sorry.
The telephone rang breaking through the calm of the evening.
Isn’t that how all tragedies start? A simple phone call.
Maybe my parents had been waiting for it, I don’t know. In all my immature stupidity I wasn’t aware of others, only myself. Always myself. My mom answered, and called for Dad. He was seated in front of the TV in the living room in his chair, the one you vacated the moment he got home, I was on the couch. This seemed to be the extent of our closeness, watching tv together silently. Sometimes I would muster up the courage to make a comment to him about the show we were watching and be rewarded with a response. He’d never know how much that answer would mean to me, how at that moment I’d feel a significant part of his life. But that didn’t happen that night. That night, I was the one without a response.
He went to the kitchen to talk on the phone, or rather, I think he just listened. Then he came back and fell into his chair. I had never seen him this way before. I didn’t dare say anything, I just watched him, feeling increasingly anxious that this person in front of me was not the man I had known my whole life. This was a different person. An individual that I had never known. He looked at me, looked through me and said “well that’s it. My brother is dead”, his voice cracked at that last word, shattering that seemingly unbreakable shell, and he crumbled and cried. Still, I said nothing. I let him suffer in front of me, as alone as he could be because I was nothing. I wanted to go to him, comfort him, this stranger in front of me, but I did not. Instead I quietly felt his pain as my own, and realized terribly that this illusion in front of me, the one I held as infallible force of a father was instead just a man who had endured loss like the rest of us. Just a boy, alone and sad.
I’m sorry Dad.