I Knew

While it can be all of unsettling and scary, change can induce growth, open doors, shed light on the possibilities in life that heretofore have been hidden in darkness. And so it is that I am deeply contemplating change.

There is no doubt that March 28 has me thinking hard and feeling deep. I will enter the minute my father never reached in life at 1:44 in the afternoon, and from then on, my life will be for the two of us in a way like never before. My father was born on February 20 and died at age 55 on August 16. I was born October 2. I am 55. If you count out the same number of days from October 2, you arrive at March 28. My father died at 1:43 in the afternoon.

I remember. I was 15. Around 1:30 that afternoon a couple of friends of mine who knew my father was not expected to live through the day came with me on a walk from my house into the Village of Nyack. My father was in St. Luke’s Hospital in New York City. We had received a call that morning saying he would not live through the day. My mother had chosen to stay home and not go see him, explaining to us that he was unconscious, in an iron-lung, and wouldn’t know she was there in the first place. Then and now her choice to not be at his side, let him die alone, staggers me.

We were 10 minutes or so into our walk when all the air went out of me and I doubled over. I knew. Out loud I said, “He just died.” My friends said, Naw, common, Pete, he’s okay. He’s gonna be okay. Their words were a lifeline. I grabbed on.

We bought soda and candy and walked back to my house. I went into the kitchen. My mother was standing at the counter with her back to me. She was cutting up vegetables. She turned to face me. Her face was almost stern. She said, “Peter, it happened.” My father was dead. I walked over and hugged her. I went into the living room where my friends were waiting. “He died,” I said. We left the house. My mother was still in the kitchen cutting vegetables.

As March 28 draws closer, I am contemplating change. I may resign from one position, focus on another, write more than ever, and create my own bucket list. There are some people and circumstances I will shed from my life.

There are some things that will not change, now or ever. I will, now and always, write and read. I will, now and always, fight for the persecuted. I will, now and always, cherish my relationship with nature. I will love those close to me with all my heart. And always, always, I will go through my life with my father at my side, now, on March 28, and beyond.

Yes, it is true, change can be unsettling and scary. It can be freeing too. And of the many things I know about my father, I know he wanted me to be free – to be me.