Odd how I see you both so clearly, composites of the few photographs stored away in the carton that has moved with me for fifty years, occasionally opened, a provocateur of tears that continue silently as the worn cardboard sides are interlaced and you are shut away once again.
There is a link missing from the code of memory that stretches from your demise to this day of the lighted candle and quiet incantation. I remember the day you died… and astonishingly, nothing more.
The memorial at the temple, the burial at the section of the cemetery purchased with four graves, your eldest son already there, the plot in the corner waiting for me… where are those recollections, so vividly etched in the memories of all good sons. And lost to me.
The Buddha is the guide who brings us together as I meditate, turning your invisible presence to realistic, lifelike visions. You are not apparitions. You are real. And I have much to say to you both, the unsaid that should have been said many years ago.
It’s easier with you, Dad. I can continue from where we last left off, when our eyes met a few seconds before you closed them forever, and a reservoir of feeling burst from its dam. I think you died knowing that I loved you and I shall be forever grateful for the thunderbolt of intuition that stopped me at your hospital room door and returned me to your bedside.
I needed to talk with you again; the eyes speak volumes but there are words that must be said and heard.
Dad, I’m sorry it has taken me so long to tell you how much I respect you and how proud I am of you. I lost my balance when I became an Ivy Leaguer, and confused gloss with substance and charm with character. I met kids whose families came from money and I thought being a kid whose family came from Europe I had to pretend to be someone I wasn’t. Dad, please hear me, the value of what you gave me was worth infinitely more than a veneer of refinement!
My own struggles with being a good parent have made it clear how well you did your job. Our arguments used to send me stumping off muttering “I’ll never be like you,” and here I am, your mirror image complete with the twinkle in my eye. I love you, Pops.
Mom, I never said goodbye to you. Not able to communicate I didn’t think it would mean anything to be at your side. I knew nothing about the spirit and the soul and how the energy of the universe lives within us. My regret haunts me. I long to embrace you and the hologram taunts me.
I was confident and cocky, a go getter in an arena where your compassion and caring nature had little currency. Today I am long gone from that disabused showground and dream of a mother’s hugs, quieting the pain that lingers.
I keep having this dream. I am a grown man, coiled in your lap. You are rocking me gently. I am forgiven for my latest bad boy prank. Your love has form, a poultice that soothes away my distress. Mothers alone have this dominion. I am flooded with gratitude. Can you hear me? Please hear me now.