He slept well. The down bedding had created a womblike feel he was hesitant to be birthed from. The coffee pot had clicked on and begun to brew, drip by drip filling the room with strength for the day. He looked around, reorienting himself. It was hard to believe he was really here, here on an island miles from his family, a time zone removed from work and bills and neighbors. But he was.
His discipline for years had been to rise early, before everyone else, and write. It was something he had witnessed in his father over the years, except his father would read. A man needs to read more than he speaks or writes. Remembering those oft-heard words caused a heel to press against his side, a pain strong enough to prod him out of his cocoon. Dad. God how he missed him.
They were two weeks away, two weeks, from a well-planned road trip back through his dad’s stomping grounds when his mother’s voice cried two words into the phone: He’s gone. And just like that, he was. No warning, no sickness, no nothing. Just gone. It was the first of his losses and felt to be the greatest. The year before he died, it seemed as if they had finally achieved a rhythm, an ease around each other they had both desired for years. The love had always been there, always, but this was something beyond that, possibly a mutual respect. He had worked through the sins of his father, both of commission and omission. His father had made peace with the disappointments, the things he thought his son would do or say or become, but did not. This work had led them to a place of being able to let the other be who and what they really were. He remembered the afternoon they walked and laughed and cried and swore and seemed to bask in the light of an uncommon sun in the lives of men: friendship with their fathers. And then his new friend was gone and he felt totally and completely alone.
One month after his dad died, he decided to adjust his morning discipline of writing with equal parts reading. His father had been reading Harrison's Dalva before he died; his mother had pointed it out on the nightstand during the days surrounding the funeral. He didn't ask her, he just took it and vowed to finish what his father had begun. On that day, one month later, as he sat to begin the book, it fell open to a bookmark, evidently the last page of words his father had read. Two lines of text were underlined in his father's trademark blue Bic ink: each of us must live with a full measure of loneliness that is inescapable, and we must not destroy ourselves with our passion to escape this aloneness.