I took the boy to his first Pride parade yesterday. He was so happy to be there, Phil. He cheered and clapped and he kept saying how great it was. I know he was in awe of some of the drag queens we saw. They were beautiful!
I tried not to think too much about you, but that was impossible. I kept thinking of us last year watching the parade with my friend, Trish. You had to sit through the parade but you clapped and cheered. I remember how fragile you were. I hovered and worried about you that day. I guess the writing was already on the wall, but I refused to read it. I wasn’t ready.
But yesterday, as the kid and I strolled through the Pride marketplace where he bought a rainbow bandana and fedora (wore both of them proudly) and a rainbow shot glass (this kid and his shot glasses disturbs me a smidge), I watched all the folks walking around and imagined the conversations you and I would have. I pointed one fellow out to Bri and told him that more than likely you would roll your eyes when you saw the guy with his cropped tank top and pot belly and mutter, “What a mess!” Then I would laugh and say, “No, c’mon, he’s trying to be fun and cute with his rainbow hair and perhaps too tight shorts.” Then you would scoff and retort with some scathing remark about the poor guy and I’d end up laughing so hard I’d be in tears.
I had to admit to the boy that I missed you an awful lot at that moment. I didn’t cry, though. You’d be proud of me. I swallowed my sob and just looked up and away from the crowd. That’s when I noticed this:
Fantastic, huh? It was there the whole time and I hadn’t even noticed it. How the hell did I miss that? I think as tall people we always look down, don’t we? I need to start looking up more. So I snapped a picture then grabbed the kid’s arm and we wandered some more. I could nearly hear your laugh everywhere we went.
Do you remember what we did last year after the parade? I bought you supermarket sushi as a belated birthday present and we went back to my house to eat. At one point, we were sitting at my kitchen bar and I popped up to either wash a dish or do something and you grabbed my arm and said, “Stop. Sit down and eat with me.”
So I did.
Did you know that was the last meal we’d eat together? You probably had an idea. You understood more of what was happening to your body than I did. Or I kept denying it. You always came home, Phil. Each time you went into the hospital, you always came home. None of us ever wanted to believe it would be any other way.
So…thank you for trying to teach me to live in the moment that day. To spend time with you while you were still here. To just be with you and eat and talk. That’s what we did best, right? We’re a family of great eaters and talkers. Especially eaters. 😉
I love you, old man and I miss you like fucking crazy.
Hugs and sloppy kisses,