by Ben Tanzer
He says to me, too bad it wasn't my dad, because that would be fine with me and better for the world as well. He says this because he is a friend. He also says this because he hates his dad. But he especially says this because he doesn't know what it's like to lose a father. All he knows for sure is that my dad is dead now and not only will I never speak to him again, but he will never meet my unborn sons, something that seems just as cruel as dying too soon in the first place. I don't think my friend believes the world can possibly work like that. That the right people would die if we could somehow convince ourselves that the universe is fair and just. He doesn't consider of course the children who lost their fathers on September 11th and never got to experience half of what I did with mine. Nor does he know if he will ever speak to his father again. Whether they will someday reconcile and whether he will have children himself and be happy that his father is there to meet them. No, what he knows is his hatred and my profound sense of loss and confusion. What he also knows, or thinks he knows, is that this kind of thing should be more equitable. But it isn't, it can't be, and it certainly never will be. And this is the part that I can accept. That we have no control, that horrible things happen and that things we love can be torn from us with no true explanation. What I cannot accept, however, is that my father will never meet those unborn boys, those boys he would love and who would love him back. The boys who would think he was so funny and charming, the grandpa who would have gotten on the ground with them to wrestle, who would have drawn with them and regaled them with epic stories of knights and dragons and unicorns that would somehow explode out of the vast recesses of his brain fully formed and complete. My dad won't be there when they cry either, or when they perform on stage, something that might have led him to cry himself. Not that he cried when I was their age, not ever, but he was a dad then, and he thought he had to be tough. This would be different though, he'd be softer. He'd have to be, grandchildren strip away all that bullshit. That's just the way it is. The way it is not is how my friend wants it to be, and I tell him I'm sorry it isn't that way, but not because I would wish a dead father on anyone, even someone who says he doesn't care, but because he wants to give me something to fill that something that is lost, and he can't, no one can. Those boys, those unborn boys will help, but the relationship with my father will not be replaced, because sadly, it doesn't work like that either.