The following Tumblr post is reprinted with my daughter, Ikuni's, permission. It is a sad but beautiful tribute to her father. We still miss him so.
"I dreamed a dream in time gone by...when hope was high and life worth living."
So, I just watched a family video from 2002 because…I just needed to see my dad and hear his voice, ya know?
This video is wonderful and painful at once because it was made just before everything went to hell (my parents’ divorce), like less than a year, I think. The hardest part, besides just my dad, is seeing my brothers actually getting along. I mean, we, all four kids, fought and had the usual fleeting nastiness between us from time to time, but we were all actually siblings, we all cared for each other, and ultimately we were a family unit. Now, my oldest and youngest brothers hardly speak to each other and when they do it’s awful and you wish they wouldn’t. I have basically no contact with my oldest brother now, which I think is best but it still hurts. I’ve remained very close with my older brother, we’re the two middle children, and somehow we’ve managed to stick most things out together. He has the best relationship with my oldest brother out of all of us, but his relationship with my youngest brother is strained nearly to breaking. I wish so badly that I could travel back and somehow salvage the bonds that I can see between us in this video. Mostly, I just want to salvage the joy on my younger brother’s face, something I haven’t seen there in years.
But of course, above all things, I wish I could sit in a Go Cart next to my father one last time, or play Dutch Blitz with him, or go for rides on his motorcycle, or attend Tae Kwon Do classes with him, or wake up to the smell and sound of him cooking breakfast and blasting Black Sabbath downstairs. I wish he could hold me in his arms again and I could feel safe. The incredible thing about my father was that he was one of those people who, no matter how bad it got, no matter what mess you were in, he made you feel like it would be okay because he would absolutely take care of it; he would fix it for you and everything would be alright because he would MAKE it so. But of course, he couldn’t actually fix everything and when it all went wrong we were all powerless.
Besides the sadness that I now impose when I watch this video, there is so much joy in it and I can’t help but smile through every minute. Because there are so many things that have not changed and never will. I am immortalized in this video reading and ranting about one of the characters and analyzing the story (at the age of 12 :D), sitting at the computer writing a story; the music associated with me is Harry Potter, my accent wanders, and I’m generally obnoxious. :) My older brother is constantly playing the drums, painfully camera shy, but so clever and witty and with such great, calming energy about him. My little brother is sarcastic, bombastic, loud and does everything his own way. My oldest brother is prickly but caring towards animals. My mother is lovely, more comfortable behind the camera than in front of it, but cares so much for her children and does all she can to give us a wonderful, art-filled, passionate environment filled with a love of learning and imagination and joy. And although my father is dead, to his very last he was filled with life, so much life, a unquenchable thirst for it; he was a prankster but so honorable and in his last days so courageous and brave. There’s no way to summarize him in words. But how I miss him; his strength, his flaws, his laugh, his sunglasses, his hugs, his humor, his everything.
I wish I could go back, curl up inside this video and live there forever. But I can’t. I was there once and now I am here, and there’s no going back. I wish so much that I could sit with my father in a McDonalds, or help him with grocery shopping again, or pick apples with him at our old house, or be scolded by him for climbing the apple tree when I wasn’t allowed, or get ice cream with him after going to see X-Men in the cinema; I wish I could go for a ride in his truck, blasting classic rock on the radio, shifting the gears for him while he drove. I wish I could wake up one last time to a life and a family that is whole, and a world that is safe. I wish I never knew what it is to wake up and find what was once your life and your family and your world shattered and lying about you in pieces. I wish I had never spent a sleepless night with my brothers after watching my mother taken away in an ambulance due to nervous collapse. I wish I had never had to sit and listen to my father tell us he was going to die in twelve months. I wish I had never sat in waiting rooms after his surgeries all alone watching the last Presidential candidates on the TV. I wish I had never had to hold his hand as I felt death hover about him. I wish I had never gotten out of the shower one morning to find my mother outside my bedroom door, all that she was destroyed, as she told me my father was dead. I wish I never knew what it’s like for half your family to disown you for how you grieve. I wish I did not know what it is to be not even twenty and half an orphan. But more than these things, I just wish he were still here.
“I dreamed a dream in time gone by / when hope was high and life worth living / I dreamed that love would never die / I dreamed that God would be forgiving / Then I was young and unafraid / and dreams were made and used and wasted / There was no ransome to be paid / No song unsung, no wine untasted / But the tigers come at night / with their voices soft as thunder / as they tear your hope apart / as they turn your dream to shame. (…) I had a dream my life would be / so different from this hell I’m living / so different now from what it seemed / Now life has killed the dream / I dreamed.”