You’ll have been gone for nine years tonight. That’s really not that long, I guess, but sometimes it seems like a very long time indeed, to the point where it’s hard for me to remember what I was like when you were still here. I remember what you were like, though, and I remember that we’d talk a few times a week, most weeks.
We’re doing okay, by and large. We do our jobs or go to classes, read books or listen to music or watch TV. I’m still too fat, but I’m less too fat than I have been sometimes, so that’s not as bad, right? I still like the job I’m doing, and Deb still does hers remarkably well.
Em told me the other day that this anniversary is a little harder for her than some of the earlier ones. Part of that’s because we’re closing in on a decade, and part of it is because each day changes the proportion of the time she’s spent without you to the time she had with you — right now, the time with still has the upper hand, but that’ll change in three or so years, and it bothers her. She thinks about things like that.
Something funny, though — the downstairs is full of your books, Dad, and I know this’ll come as a shock to you, but they still smell like cigarettes. If Em opens one that hasn’t been opened in years, the smell of Camels or Dorals or generics or those American Spirits y’all smoked late will burst forth. But the funny part is that Em thinks of that as a reminder of Christmas, and of visits with you both. And after she told me that, I think of it that way, too.
You’d be really proud of Em — I mean, you would be even if she were just a lump, but she isn’t. She’s taking Spanish this summer and gearing up for the GRE. Here’s hoping she has the knack that you and I shared for those. I think she does, although I’m afraid that when it comes to math, she’s more like Dad than like I am. She’s looking at grad schools, of course, and her two front-runners are four and eight hours away. Give me credit — at least I stayed within three hours for grad school, and although I wound up here, it’s like you said — “You go where the work is.” She writes, and sometimes she asks me what y’all would think of her and the stuff she does. I tell her that y’all would love it and be proud of her, and I know it’s the truth. And even the distance of grad school makes me think she may be recovering the willingness to be in the world again. A lot of that disappeared for a while.
I’m still writing, and not just here. I think you’d get a kick out of some of the folks I’ve met and some of the things I get to do because of the writing. Mom, remember when you told me to save the e-mails I got from Lawrence Block? Well, I did better than that — we’ve hung out some, and I feel comfortable counting him as a friend. (But I do still save the e-mails, most of the time. His sense of humor is as dark as ours.) So, slow and steady, right?
Mike? Well, we don’t really communicate anymore, and it’ll have been that way for five years in a couple of months. We weren’t that good at it even before, and you’d poke us about doing better. But at this point, I just don’t think either of us has anything to say that the other would find worth hearing. That’s not the way any of us would have wanted things to turn out, but then, none of this was.
For a few years, I’d hear a joke or read a book or see something, and I’d think that I needed to tell you about it before I remembered I couldn’t. Now, I remember I can’t first; it’s the difference between “I should tell — oh, right,” and “They would have gotten a kick out of this.” And there’s such a long distance between those points. I wonder if it was that way for y’all when your folks died.
But that’s kind of where things are, now. I don’t know when I’ll be back in Nashville — maybe fall, maybe next spring — and I haven’t been back to Northern KY since the sentencing, but Joe Scott and some of the other guys have invited me back. I guess we’ll see.
Like I said, that’s where we are now, and you know that, and you know how much we miss you. But we’re getting along, which is better than not, and we’ll keep trying to do that. We love you — I love you. Talk soon.