Last Sunday was Father’s Day. Cole and I have traveled over each Father’s Day since Joe died. We were in Italy the first year, Alaska the second, and Ireland the third. This is the first year we were home instead of being away. I was going to write a post last Sunday, but after a dinner out where the waitress asked us three times “where dad was,” I wasn’t in the mood. I was less annoyed by her than by myself for not looking at her and saying, “He died.” and by the fact that I sometimes wondered the same thing…..
Sixteen has started off being an introspective year for Cole. While he used to accept his dad as his guardian angel easily and feel his constant presence in his life, he now wants proof. While I easily talk to Joe, Cole says his dad never answers when he talks to him, and the only voice he hears is his own, “My dad never talks back to me.” These words break my heart. I rage at Joe and insist he try harder to reach Cole, and yet, I know that right now Cole is supposed to question, doubt, and see the world with skepticism. I’m suppose to “hear” for both of us.
Cole’s quest for stories about his dad is unquenchable. Joe died while Cole still idealized him, and now that Cole is ready for a real relationship and conversations about real things, his dad isn’t here to answer his questions. He is afraid of forgetting his dad before he connects pieces of himself with his dad. Together, we hunt and gather those pieces from what we remember and combine them with the stories about Joe that others share with us.
Doubt and questioning is a big part of our world. Cole asked me if I thought it was possible that when you died, it was simply over, done, or finished. He suggested that perhaps we only make up an afterlife to take away our fear of dying. I wanted to tell him that I believe the streets of heaven are paved with gold and that an angel chorus, along with all those that we had loved and lost, will greet us at heaven’s gates. Instead, I said, “‘I don’t know.” Cole was reassured by my answer and agreed that none of us know for certain; we went on to discuss the possibilities. “I don’t know,” is a powerful answer.
Low level listening crept in as Cole explained to me, “Empty space is the primary weight of the universe.” He would have lost me all together if I were not jolted back into his world when he said, “This eliminates the need for God or a Creator.” I asked him if he believed in God, and he said he wasn’t sure. He was certain he did not believe in a God that insisted on one way of thinking or one set of beliefs. He believes that if there is a God, he is more interested in forgiveness than in vengeance. He went on to tell me, “It’s hard to forgive people who leave you even when it’s not their fault.” Indeed, it is. I pulled out one of his dad’s and my favorite books, “The Disappearance of the Universe,” and gave it to him. The margins are covered with Joe’s notes, and passages are highlighted. I’m not sure if Cole is ready to read it, but I suspect if he does not pick it up for more than a glance someday soon it will fall off his closet shelf and hit him soundly in the head.
Perhaps what I really should have said to our insensitive waitress on Father’s Day is, “What do you mean, ‘where is dad?’ Can’t you see him? Please add an extra place setting and bring the man a Martini. It’s Father’s Day.”
Fear Binds the World. Forgiveness Sets it Free ~
P.S.: I love this book!