December 31st, 2009
Lord R. God
King of kings, etc.
Dear Overwatching One,
We agree, I think, that old acquaintances should not be forgotten. So, as I brace myself for another year of your unfolding mystery, I must ask: Do you remember the moans that percolated in her throat? I could never grasp what she was trying to say. Was she pleading for something specific? Were there some last words she needed me to hear? I mean, you tell me. That’s your domain, right? Divining the voices of rocks and sheep, knowing the inner heart of man, woman, and child.
Surely and child.
Moans were the only communication you left her, after the brain tumor clamped shut her jaw, crooked her neck, pinched closed her fists. I know, we’ve been around this block, but as another year’s dread dark hours wind down, let’s traverse it again. Don’t pretend it’s an imposition; an hour for me is like a second for you. You’re the Alpha and Omega. The Author and Perfecter of faith. Not a single sparrow falls without your notice. Look, you wrote your own promotional literature; I’m just reading it back to you. And what I’m saying, half a bottle of cheap bubbly in, is that if you get credit for the Grand Canyon, and Leonardo da Vinci, and the miracle that is the human eyeball, then she goes on your ledger too.
I need you to tell me what she was trying to say because I can’t get the moans out of my head. I hear them in the little sleep-growl the cat makes. I hear them in the distant whine of trucks on the highway. I hear them when my living children hum along to the radio. Do you understand how cruel that is? Maybe you do. They say you lost a son. I was pleading with him too, the night she passed. He had nothing to say to me either.
Do you remember the way I would knead her palms that were like little sacks of marbles? I wanted to believe it helped her, but I couldn’t tell. It was all I could think to do when the moaning became insistent. Knead her palms and push the morphine—but not too much, because I needed her passing to be on your book, not mine.
Now I need to get the moans out of my head. Can you help me with that? It’s just a little bundle of memory, nestled onto a single synapse. It’s not like I’m asking you to extract an entire brainstem glioma. I know that’s not your thing, anymore. But maybe this little act of erasure could be? For auld lang syne?
Maybe I shouldn’t make this about me. Perhaps she wasn’t asking me for anything. She certainly knew I had nothing left to give. That I’d failed the fundamental responsibility of a father: Protect your child.
Maybe she was simply going up the chain of command, from father to Father.
Do you remember how I bargained with you in those thin, dark hours when her exhaustion was greater than her pain? Let’s review the offers I made, in order:
I will come back to church.
I will write a book about your wonders.
I will stop drinking.
I’ll stop fucking around.
I’ll be grateful.
I’ll take her place.
I’ll give you whatever you want.
I will believe in you again.
All these things I prayed heavenward while you sat enthroned in silence.
I know I’m being unfair. That there are mysteries at work here. But you understand what it’s like to want vengeance. To want to hold someone to account. Someone other than you.
You have this power, is what I’m saying. Even now, here I am again, on my knees. Surely that counts for something like faith? So listen, if you won’t tell me what she said, please tell me she’s better now. Tell me she isn’t lonely up there. Tell me how to let her go.
With what little I have,