3 years. Sometimes it feels like 3 days, sometimes 3 weeks, sometimes a decade, but always far too long ago since I last saw you.
I am 6 years old, it’s the middle of the night and I’m upset. You are downstairs lying on the sofa, finally home from the faraway hospital, recovering from your lobectomy. I come down to see you and I’m crying because everyone in the family wears glasses apart from me.
You wear glasses and mother wears glasses and sister wears glasses but I don’t. I deduce from this that there must be something wrong with me, that I’m not special enough to have glasses. You explain that I’m lucky, that my sight is perfect and that seeing things without glasses is a magical thing, a privilege, something to be happy about. But I really, really want glasses so that I can be like you.
You get off the sofa with much effort and slowly hobble over to your desk. You take a pair of old reading glasses and pop the lenses out. You squash the frames, trying to manipulate them into a smaller shape. You are out of breath. You come back to me and put the glasses on my little face, pinching the temple tips behind my head and securing them together with an elastic band so that they don’t fall off. “There,” you said, “is that better?” I was so happy and fell asleep with you on the sofa.
In the morning my “glasses” were on the table in their own little case, a red felt pouch with a yellow letter H on top. You must’ve made the case in the early hours when you should’ve been resting, recovering from having most of your lung removed. This was the kind of father you were.
I wear glasses now, Daddy, just like you do. Just like you did. I can hear you saying, “They really suit you, Lal. Very smart,” and “your lenses need a bloody good clean” and “don’t go losing them now, will you?” to which I’d reply “I won’t” to which we’d both laugh because we know that I will definitely misplace them on a regular basis (which I do: I search everywhere for them until someone points out that they’re on top of my head, just like we used to have to do with you).
I miss you so much it hurts. I can’t believe you’re dead. It’s not a denial thing: I know that you are dead, I saw you die, I saw your casket, I saw your ashes, I buried half of them, I threw the rest in the sea, I visit your grave, your phone is disconnected, someone else lives in your flat, you are not here, you are elsewhere, somewhere that I can’t get to. I just can’t believe you actually died.
You have a new grandson. He is an adorable bundle of chubbiness. Next month, brother is going to Japan and I am going to Mexico. We will both be in the Pacific at the same time, far from London and its awfulness. You would be so excited for us. Neither of us have a permanent address at the moment but we look after each other. You’d be proud of us. We are your children and we are so proud to be. I know I’m drinking too much, but I’m reading a lot and trying to stay sane. I can listen to Bob Dylan now without crying. Everyone in the pub talks about you all the time, remembering your advice and jokes and stories, often attempting to recount them in your Cornish accent, which is always a laugh.
I imagine that you don’t need glasses where you are, that you’ve been reinstated with perfect vision and everything is beautiful. Can’t wait to see you in paradise, Papa.
I love you I love you I love you, forever and a day ♥♥♥