Day 365: Waiting on a Friend

I believe I will see Miles again.  Some day, I will spend time with my son, my boy locked at age 17 with his long cornsilk hair.  Miles with his ripped jeans and scabby arms from skating and falling.  Miles with his filthy fingernails and yellow sweatshirt.  Miles with his generous smile and bright welcoming eyes.  I will see him again and we will talk about what I did with the rest of my life and what his brother Owen is doing as a man in the world.  We will talk about his mother and her kind heart and good cooking.  We will sit in the sun and look at the sky and open up a folder of his most recent pictures to see what is new in the world through his eyes.

I believe I will see Miles again. The rest of my life is prelude to a new world, somewhere where I will be reunited with Miles.  I will be with him, sometime and somewhere, both of us in peace.

I know now that I treated each phase of Miles’s life as a step toward his next milestone. Crawling led to walking.  Middle school was preparation for high school. High school was preparation for college.  College was to be a preparation for a life and career.  I realize that maybe I spent too much time concentrating on the future and not enjoying the present.  I wish I had spent more time being in the present and enjoying the time he spent with me as a boy and young man.  Now, I am the one who prepares for the future. I am preparing every day for the time I get to see Miles again and I can tell him, “Yes Miles, I have done right by you.  I did my best.  I am so glad to see you again.”  My life is preparation for our beautiful reintroduction.

Until then I wait.  I wait in the sunlight, waiting on my friend.

Day 364: It Won’t Be Long

Six thousand four hundred and fifty eight days– is that a long time? Is it a short time? I think it is a long time. Miles lived 6,458 days, but it was not nearly enough.

My great aunt lived 33,262 days. My grandfather lived for 28,566 days and my grandmother (his wife) lived 19,814 days. My great, great, great, great grandfather lived 21,284 days.

As of today, I have lived 15,967 days. I have wasted a lot of them. I have not spent them the way perhaps I should have. I made decisions years ago that have determined how I spend my days today. I have accumulated many hours and days reading or writing. I have slept perhaps one third of those days. I wonder how many days I have spent in cars or in front of the tv or playing computer games or working? Too many.

I was just a person alone in the world for 9,068 of them, first a baby and then a boy and then a man. On my 9,069th day, I became a father. I was a father to a single son for 1,583 days and on the 1,584th day, I became the father of two sons. This lasted for 4,875 days, but it will never truly end. I will always have two sons.

A single day can seem like a long time. It can pass quickly. Sometimes I wake up to see the sun rise. I try to keep track of the moon and its phases. I try to appreciate the seasons as they exert themselves on the day. I have learned to embrace the winter and its cold dark days. I no longer think of winter as a time to rush through and get over with. There is a beauty in the emptiness of the landscape when the ground is cold and the plants have died and the animals are asleep underground or living far away where it is warmer. I have learned to enjoy the days, every day as much as I can and make the best of them day after day after day until it is impossible to do so anymore. It is easy to lose track of time sometimes.  It is easy to lose track of what a day can mean and how much you can in 24 hours if you really put your mind to it.

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Day 363: Death Don’t Have No Mercy

Everything I was afraid would happen has happened. A year ago I was afraid that I would lose my connection with Miles. I was worried that I would dwell on “Miles” and not remember Miles. It’s happened. It’s harder for me to reach Miles. I think of him often, near constantly in some way. But I feel like I am thinking of “Miles” and not Miles.

“Miles” is all the ephemera and artifacts of his presence. The pictures– I am so familiar with them all, both the pictures of him and the pictures he took. The clothes he wore. His blonde hair. The way he walked. The way he sat in a chair. The way he ate. I have surrounded myself with many items that represent him and bring him to the forefront of my imagination and memory, but these are all “Miles” and not Miles.

In my mind, I recollect “Miles” more often than Miles. It is so hard and getting harder to elicit his memory in a real way. Sometimes it punches through the day-to-day and I feel his presence but also his loss. I feel the gaping hole. It passes and I come back to where I am.

In my mind, I dwell a lot on the meta-Miles and this is also “Miles” not Miles. There is an accumulation of effects related to his loss that burdens every hour. I wonder how to navigate a conversation with people I am meeting for the first time. When I meet someone I know, I wonder if they came to the house on that day. Did they send me a card? Did they send an email? Did they help out with our laundry or with food or with the memorial service? Did I ever thank them? Should I say something like thank you? Or do they even know what happened? Is it possible that people have forgotten? Are their wild thing stickers peeling off in the rain and cold? Are the posters put away in a drawer? All of these thoughts about the meta-Miles crowd out my access to Miles.

I am drifting farther away from that point in time where he is frozen, eternally 17. Always 6,458 days old. I get older and farther away from Miles.

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Day 361: Four Minute Warning

I wonder sometimes about what happens to us after we die. I imagine what happens to the spirit of who we are. There are ideas about an afterlife in a heaven or hell. I do not believe in these things. I don’t think I believe in anything. I do not need an orthodoxy to dictate my imagination. I can imagine anything I want and as I imagine it, it is true. I can envision a world in an afterlife that can be true, as true as any other fiction might be. Sometimes, I think that we spend an eternity in a single moment of our lives. A hell might be a single moment we experience here in pain. A heaven might be a single moment we experience in pleasure or satisfaction or peace. I used to think to myself when everything seemed to be looking up that the whole world is designed for me. When everything is going well, I imagine that some force is benefitting me. I do not think I will ever think this again. Maybe I was momentarily in a heaven of our world’s making, way back then, but it’s slipped and it’s very far away.

Day 360: Paradise

When I started this project, I was worried I would not have enough to write about. I wrote about a few prominent moments in my memory about Miles and our relationship with each other through music. After I wrote the first few entries, I was worried I would run out of things to say. Instead, I believe I could write forever. I could write about thousands of moments and a million ideas. New music hits my ears and I wonder if Miles would like it. Every day, I remember something new. Something comes to mind that I had forgotten and I jot it down. It does not always make it into a post, but it gets documented somewhere. I added it to the accumulation of ephemera around me, the thousands of things I have that I preserve as it slips away into the past.

I remember that for a while last autumn I would consciously remark to myself about what I was doing and think that maybe it would be the last time I would do it.  When I saw someone from far away whom I might be visiting, I would think, This is the last time I may see them. Or, I might think that this may be my last visit to this part of the forest or to this little town on my drive home. Maybe this was my last meal at this restaurant. Life is uncertain. Anything can happen.   I made the mistake a few times of sharing my thoughts out loud. I regret hurting the people who may have been offended by the thought, but a long time ago I made a deal with myself to never find fault with telling the truth and at the time what I said was real and true. Some things I did felt like the last time forever, like the future was a big abyss. 

Day 359: Keep On Pushing

I think about Miles all the time. All the time. Sometimes I think about Miles as a baby or a young boy. We had such fun together.

When I think of Miles as a boy and our walks and activities around the house together, it occurs to me that my nostalgia is no different than any other parent who has seen their children grow up. I also miss Owen as a little boy. We had fun too and I miss his childhood years as well. We as parents are all sad about the past when our sons and daughters were young. I am no different than any other father in that respect.

I am years away from being a grandparent and maybe I never will be. One thing I lament is that I will never see Miles reflected in his children. I will never get to look into the eyes of Miles’s children and see him as a little boy. I will never help him take care of his own son or daughter in those early days when a baby wears you out. I will never remark about how similar he or she is to the little boy I romped with through the streets of Morgantown or over the trails of Mason Dixon Park. The thread is cut. The end has happened and I can only pretend it is true in my torturous imagination.