Birthday

I was watching the rain drip from the gutters today and all I wanted was my father back. I could not understand how all this still stands--the house, the gutters, the sky--without him. He was what held my life together. It made sense with him. Now he is gone. It's the vanishing that is so hard to accept. It's standing in rooms where he once stood and not comprehending how he could cease to exist. Where is he? What is he? And that is to be my fate, too--a nonentity, an unanswerable question, a void, a substanceless memory?

He should have turned 53 years old today. He should have blown out candles on a cake and smiled for a disposable camera and hugged me when I gave him a gift. That's what today should have been. Instead, I slept until noon, watched soap operas, read The Buddha in the Attic, and started Sontag's journals. I devour words like they are nourishment, like they can exist inside my very body and make it swell and glow and maybe they can. If I have words, then I have myself, my life, my consciousness, my intellect. If I have words, then death is somehow diminished.