I did something that was so hard for me to do a couple of weeks ago. I said Kaddish for both my father as well as my son together. It has been hard to say it for my dad for the past thirty four years. Every time I say it I try to recall him, try to remember the times we had together. Every year it gets harder and harder as I get older and the memories of when I was a boy fade with age. It has been devastatingly hard to say Kaddish for Andrew since September. I cry every single time I stand, thinking about him and how much I miss my son. But saying it together for them made me think about them more than cry over them. It was a very introspective experience.
What goes on in Heaven? My father was there for thirty four years before Andrew was called. Was my father there to meet and welcome his grandson and make the transition easier for him? Nicole asked that the Angels lead Andrew into heaven, was my dad one of those angels? Andrew does not know many people in heaven. Of course he know Dorothy’s father, and I am sure he is holding him, and Aunt Flo and Uncle Cy who loved him dearly. But he has no friends or close relatives that went before him to help him. I know he felt lost and alone and dealt with anxiety sometimes here on earth, not sure where to go, what to do, or who to hold. I hope that did not follow him and that pain was left here on earth.
What I picture in my mind over and over again is Andrew and dad sitting at a wood picnic bench high in the mountains talking to each other and sharing stories about me. They both loved the mountains and this image brings me great peace.
My father only knew me for 16 years, 2 months, 10 days, or 5915 days. That was way too short to really get to know me, and I know that I really never got to know my father the way a son should. But we had great times. We went cross-country as a family twice, we went on many, many wonderful vacations, we learned to SCUBA dive together and dove together for a few years. He helped me in school, and helped me through my youth riddled with ADD, OCS, hyper-activity, and was always there to help me. But sixteen years was way to short to really learn me as a person, and for me to really appreciate how much I needed him throughout my life. All of his memories of me where as a boy, and just into my teen years.
My own son, Andrew, did not fare much better, he knew me for 21 years, 7 months, 27 days, or 7910 days. He knew me as his father, as his protector, and someone he could always count on. We also went on many great vacations, some cruises, and he too got SCUBA certified and we went on many dives along with Nicole and Dorothy. Each and every dive was a great experience. Andrew and I talked for hours on end about life, about what he wanted to do when he gradated, and about everything from the Beatles to computers. I too helped my son through a myriad of issues with his ADD, ADHD, stress, and his kidney stones. It was always a challenge and it made me appreciate what my mom and dad went though with me growing up. It was a challenge, but I know that he knew I always had his back and that I always was there to support, protect, and defend him.
So now I sit here alone at my table, thinking about them, knowing that my son and my father are together talking about me. They are sharing stories, laughing, holding hands and smiling, thankful for the time each of them had with me here on earth. Knowing that they both loved me, and knowing that I loved them both so much and miss them both so much. They never met in life, but they are now forever together for eternity in heaven. This picture in my mind brings me so much peace.
Maybe one day, hopefully many years down the road, I will join them at that park bench and set the stories straight.