Updated: Jul 12, 2020
My dad is dead today. He’s been dead this whole past week. He might have been dead the week before as well. But not the one before that. He was alive and well two weeks ago. He woke up at 6:30am in his house in Novi, Michigan two weeks ago and got ready for his day. I remember this. I’ll be more clear: I remember not thinking to myself “My dad is dead” two weeks ago. And if I didn’t have that thought, then he wasn’t dead that day.
He lives and dies in random spurts and stretches. I live in Oregon. He lives in Michigan. That’s where his body is—both when alive and dead. So just because I don’t see him doesn’t mean he doesn’t exist. That’s how my brain likes to work more often than not. I am sitting at my desk in Corvallis, Oregon and he is leaving his job at GM right now. I’m eating dinner while he reads before bed. (You have to consider the time difference.)
So he isn’t always dead. Instead, sometimes he goes about his business just like he used to and nothing I can see from so many miles away proves what I’m imagining is wrong. It’s exactly the same as imagining my mom going about her day. And my mom is alive and well in a very real sense.
But this particular day has no tolerance for comforting lies. My dad is dead. On the anniversary of his death, he stays firmly obstinately dead. And I can’t picture him living a life. I picture him dead on a hospital bed. I picture the coffin being lowered into the ground. I picture a grave marker I’ve never actually seen. He is gone. There are no fragments or imaginations today. I’m out of luck today.
"'Dead?' said Sophie. She had a silly impulse to add, But she was alive an hour ago! And she stopped herself, because death is like that: people are alive until they die.'" -Diana Wynne Jones, Howl's Moving Castle