I’ve never been more sad.
I’ve never been more frightened.
Sadness with the velocity of a bullet.
Fear with the force of a shotgun blast.
I’d like to think that the worst day of my life contained more feelings than simply sadness and fear. It would make for beautiful sentences; stringing powerful adjectives together to describe powerful feelings. That wouldn’t be the truth though… sadness and fear, thats the truth.
Before I get too deep I feel that I should describe my dad a little so that you, the reader, might get a glimpse of how much he meant to me. Unfortunately, for you and I, this post is about his death and not how he lived his life or his character which had plenty of flaws but also beautiful perfections. He was a man full of contradictions. Complicated and easy to dislike but he was also an open book who was hard not to love. I will discuss him in depth at some point but now isn’t the time.
They ruled the date of death as July 24th, a saturday. A beautiful saturday. A saturday that only a Michigander can understand. The bright sun and the light breeze landed on your skin evenly, it warmed you but never felt hot. It was perfect motorcycling weather.
I rode up to go see my dad that saturday on the 1977 Honda 550four SuperSport he had given me. It was my first motorcycle and the second stage of a love affair with motorcycles that began after I had first ridden on the back of his Harley at 9 years old.
When he hadn’t returned my calls that morning I decided to ride up and see if he was home. He was the type of guy who would wake up on a Saturday morning and ride out unplanned without a duration in mind. Sometimes it seemed like he was just as likely to come home the following Tuesday at 4am as he was to come home in 20 minutes. He was so fucking cool.
When I got there that morning it wasn’t surprising to see the car in the driveway or for the door to go unanswered. I had a key to his place, afterall it had been my home too for most of my years between 15 and 22. Since I had moved out though he had preffered I didn’t come in without him knowing. So I turned around, jumped on the bike, and continued enjoying the beautiful day unaware that I had been 20 feet away from him. Whether he was alive or dead is a fact I’ve stopped dwelling on finally after 15 years.
Saturday and Sunday came and went leading to Monday which was another beautiful day. It was cool in the morning with the promise of warmer temperatures in the breeze. I reported to work where I had started as a plumbers helper at the company where my Nana (My step-dads step-mom) worked as the book keeper and office manager. We were loading up the truck when my Nana called to tell me that I needed to call my grandfather.
I was always really apprehensive around my grandfather. My first impressions of him were the horrific stories of abuse my dad had told me, the silence of a man who was neither approving or disapproving, and then the man who turned to me in his garage and did a hilariously disarming dance like a clown would do. He and my Nana were never married when I was in the picture and I didn’t know them to speak. It was an odd request made in a round about way which was odd but seeing as how he was always a complete mystery to me I didn’t think too much of it.
I called my grandpa who told me that my dad hadn’t shown up for work and wasn’t answering or returning phone calls. I didn’t know my dad to pull something like that… on the other hand, if a no-call-no-show was the “fuck you” he thought you deserved, I wouldn’t put it passed him.
Since I had a key my grandpa wanted me to run over and check the house. I wasn’t alarmed in the least. I remember thinking how great it was to not be at work. Windows down and music cranked I cruised to my dads in my moms old baby blue Geo Prism that figuratively (and littlerally) said “in love with life” hoping I could get him to agree to ride that day once I got there.
When I got to the house everything was the exact same as two days prior. I walked up and unlocked the door, turned the handle, and opened the door to reveal the still air of a house that has been closed off and vacant for a while. I didn’t bother calling for him, I was sure he wasn’t home. I took the stairs up to the top floor of my former split level home and my perfect day unraveled abruptly.
I became accutely aware of how out of place the scene on the table was. Why was his wallet there? Were those house keys, car keys, or motorcycle keys? How did the items on the table fit into the narrative my brain had so easily constructed? What the fuck is happeneing?
With a sense of dread, I walked outside and called my Nana. I explained the scene to her and realized I hadn’t figured out if he was actually there or not. I couldn’t go back in on my own. I knew where the answer was but I just couldn’t go back in alone.
When my Nana got there we walked in together, she walked upstairs, and I walked downstairs towards the garage. Despite knowing that his body might be upstairs, I knew the answer to whether or not he was home was in the garage. Either the motorcycles were all there or they weren’t. Either, one was gone and everything was going to be ok or they were all there and something was completely fucked.
As with my aunt 15 years earlier, I looked into the garage and have zero recolection of what I saw or did. I must have yelled, I must have ran. I must have cried. There must have been a reaction to what I must have seen… shot gun blast; the literally one hit me as hard as the real one must’ve hit him.
All I remember is ending up on the grass out front. First the short grass outside of the front door and at some point further out in the longer grass by the trees that lined the driveway. I remember speaking to the cops and calling my roomate, telling him what happened, and asking him to tell our manager at my second job that I couldn’t make it in that night. Other than this, I have no recollection. Did I do something as normal as drive home? Did I get drunk? Was I a fucking human? In hindsight I felt this way for a VERY long time afterward, months rather than days or weeks.
I dream about my dad consistently, they are always the most awesome dreams. Awesome in the sense that I can feel his presence. The fright and sadness I felt that day doesn’t have a place in these dreams where I can see him even if I can’t really see his face. Its like being aware of the time but not knowing what time it is. My favorite dreams are when we ride. He is elusive in these dreams but I can feel his presence. He’s riding behind me and all I have to do is look into my right mirror and he’d be there. I know it but I try not too look because everytime I do, I lose him again. I wake up but Im not afraid or disappointed but rather comforted in the fact that we were riding.
This year in July will be 15 years since that day. I still can’t listen to Patches by Clarence Carter, my best friend and I still talk about him like we just saw him yesterday, and I still wish everyday I could ride with him one more time. I wish he would have known his granddaughter, he would have absolutely adored her and she would have loved him.
I wonder if he would be proud of me for working hard, finishing my degree, and for being a good man? I wonder if, had I told him how important he was to me, it would have changed his mind or even postponed the event for 2 months, 2 days, or even 2 minutes? In 2 minutes, would he have heard me pull up before he pulled the trigger? Could the sound of a 1977 Honda 550four SuperSport have saved his life…
Questions but no answers, ever. This is what suicide means to me.
“What ever it is, it’s better in the wind”