As real as ever, by @jackaurquhart

In Memoriam, Dillon Tyler Urquhart, 3.08.1979 – 8.02.2013

©2013 by Jack A. Urquhart  370 words

Dillon waterfront

Dear Dillon, Dear Son,

You are much on my mind today.

It has been 72 days now.  You’d think that would be long enough, wouldn’t you?  Long enough for anyone to settle into reality.  But I’m not quite there yet.

On the contrary, I keep fooling myself that parents don’t outlive their children; over and over, I grasp at that notion, hold on to it for dear life—until the idea of your death seems as unreal as ever.  I tell myself that it must be a terrible mistake, a misunderstanding—your absence.  Nothing more than another bad dream.  Something I imagined?

I do that sometimes, you know—conjure up a scenario so terrible, and in such detail, that it almost seems real?  And then I pull myself back from the brink with a great sigh of relief, thankful that it’s all been a fantasy, just my head getting away from me.

Only this time, I can’t; this time, it isn’t.

This time I can’t pull back from the truth for more than a few scattered hours; a day or two here and there at best.  I can’t take lasting comfort in any hard evidence that refutes imagination.  No matter how hard I work to ignore the space you’ve vacated, it persists, waits to blindside me—usually when I’m thinking the worst is over and that I’m getting stronger.

Just then, some innocuous moment overwhelms:

A young family roughhousing in the park; a new Daddy toting his infant through the mall; a father and son in animated conversation at a local diner, their blood-deep relationship as plain as the nose on your face, as obvious as their before-and-after versions of the same profile.

That is when it all comes home to me—the permanence of your absence:

No more late-night phone calls and texts, no e-mails; never again a laughing lunch as you slurp your way through a steaming bowl of Pho.

Nothing of that Dillon who occasioned so much happiness, and worry, and laughter, and aggravation.  And love.

So.  Much.  Love.

Except in my dreams, where you show up as real as ever.  As real as ever.

Just as real as ever.

Love, Dad

About jaurquhart

Jack Andrew Urquhart was born in the American South. Following undergraduate work at the University of Florida, Gainesville, he taught in Florida's public schools. He earned a Master of Arts degree in English, Creative Writing, from the University of Colorado at Boulder, where he was the winner of the Harcourt Brace Jovanovich Award for Fiction (1991). His work has appeared online at Clapboard House Literary Journal, Crazyhorse Literary Journal, and Standards: The International Journal of Multicultural Studies. He is the author of So They Say, a collection of self-contained, inter-connected stories and the short story, They Say You Can Stop Yourself Breathing. Formerly a writing instructor at the University of Colorado’s Writing Program, Mr. Urquhart was, until 2010, a senior analyst for the Judicial Branch of California. He resides in Washington State.
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6 Responses to As real as ever, by @jackaurquhart

  1. rlboyington says:

    Painfully true. Exquisitely lovely.

  2. marydpierce says:

    I agree with Ray. I remember those dreams – I had similar dreams about both Peter and Tommy. Dreams so vivid even now 15 and 22 years later I can see bits of them in my mind when I close my eyes. I think maybe our dreams are meant to help us heal. It isn’t quick, though.

    It’s just as well.

  3. I know I’m not a long-time or personal friend, and there isn’t much I can do to help, except to fall back on poetry by a different Dylan:

    They shall have stars at elbow and foot;
    Though they go mad they shall be sane,
    Though they sink through the sea they shall rise again;
    Though lovers be lost, love shall not;
    And death shall have no dominion.
    — from Dylan Thomas, And Death Shall Have No Dominion

  4. adauphin04 says:

    It is one of THE most unnatural “positions” to be in, burying one’s child. It’s not supposed to be that way. We’re supposed “to go” before them. They should be burying us. It’s the natural order of things. I know that words cannot express the sorrow you’re feeling, Jack and I apologize for not reaching out to you before now, but life happens and has been keeping my head up my butt. My condolences to you and yours, dear Jack. I won’t say that it’ll get easier, or better or any of that. You will feel how you feel until you don’t feel that way anymore. Just know that there are friends/people out here that have you in our thoughts and prayers. Also, know that although you feel like you could have done more, you are not to blame. Blame falls no where and to no one. Just try to remember good things and Dylan will always be with you. B@Peace, dear Jack!

  5. I know it is not the same, but I had many dreams of my mother after she died in which I could spend a precious few minutes back with her. They were wonderful.

  6. germaine bernard says:

    diillon imiss you ever day iwalk up the hill i allway say there someing miss you had this good spritabout your self i bet you are in heaven have fun i wish you were down here with us your tree is doing good that tin is growing like crazy i thank you you that youare watch over it imiss my friend take care dont party to much in heavean

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