You Should Be Here

Leelee’s birthday was, as you know, a week ago today. October 15th. Extensions deadline.

Or, the you I knew, knew.

I have no idea if you know now.

But you should.

 

And you should have been here.

 

I was coming home from the beach with my girls a week ago today, so I planned her party a week later.

It was today. On the 4 month anniversary of you leaving.

It was a small party, but a big day for her.

You should have been here.

 

It was her day. She was a princess.

You were supposed to walk in the door and say, “Happy Birthday, Lee. Lee. Are you Lee. Lee.? No…wait….you are….who are you???”

And she should have said, “I’m Belle!”

And you should have said, “You are Lee. Belle!”

And she should have corrected you, after she jumped into your arms.

Lee. Lee. You said her name that way on purpose.

We expected it.

We expected to hear it today.

 

You should have been here.

 

I keep looking for you, Daddy. I keep waiting on you to show up, I keep thinking that you are just around the corner, just a little late, and when you don’t show, my heart falls.

You should be here.

You SO should be here.

 

People who care send me messages telling me they are worried about me. They read these writings, and they worry. I don’t know how to explain how you not showing up feels.

 

It feels like the headliner of every big show has just decided to ditch, no matter that everyone bought tickets and is expecting him.

It feels wrong.

It feels like everything is upside-down. And trying to navigate upside-down without a map or a compass or any direction whatsoever makes me feel lost.

And I’m not used to feeling lost.

Feeling lost has made me numb.

I can’t feel what I used to feel, because if I let myself,  it is too much.

I’m used to feeling in control.

I’m used to knowing what to expect.

 

I’m used to the big name showing up when I buy tickets.

 

You were the headliner. You always have been.

You were the big name, even if no one else knew it.

 

We always waited for you.

It wasn’t fun until you arrived. It wasn’t what it was supposed to be until you came on the scene.

You told us how to be with your presence.

You gave us ourselves by just being near.

Your jokes were lame and tired, but we laughed anyway, because somehow, they were still funny.

Or maybe they just completed us because we wanted to hear them.

They gave us that comfort that told us you were you, and that we were a part of you, and that made us feel safe.

They reminded us of who we were because you imprinted those tired jokes on us.

We repeated them. They were Charles-isms.

 

I can’t hear the jokes anymore.

I can’t hear the Lee. Lee.

Except I can.

I hear it in my head almost every time I say her name.

I hear it when I’m trying to go to sleep. It keeps me awake.

I hear it when I drop her off at school.

I hear it when I’m putting her to bed.

I hear it when the door opens.

And yet, it only exists in my head and my memories. My four month and one day memories. How ridiculous.

So I can’t make it stop. Because I JUST heard it. Four months and one day ago.

Lee. Lee.

 

You should be here.

 

How do I explain that to people who are worried about me? I can’t explain it. I can’t tell them not to worry, because I don’t know how I would feel if I was reading what I write as someone else. I wish they wouldn’t. I wish I could change that.

I have no idea if they should be worried or not.

All I know is, I’m doing the best I can.

And the worst of the worst lands here.

 

All I know is, I hear you all the time, but I know it is not you.

I know I should be hearing you for real.

I know what you would be saying, and I hear it as it should be happening.

I hear it as if it is happening.

But it isn’t happening.

The door isn’t opening.

Your voice isn’t saying it.

Except I still hear it.

 

Lee. Lee.

Lee. Lee.

Lee. Lee.

 

You were the star of my show, and you skipped.

I bought a ticket, by default, because I was yours. I paid for it, not with dollars, but with love and respect and admiration on levels that don’t have limits.

And still, you don’t show up.

And that is wrong.

That is upside-down.

That is not real.

Not to me, anyway.

 

Some people don’t show up. I’m learning this, though I don’t understand it.

But not you.

You always showed up.

Every time.

You taught me to show up.

You do what you say you are going to do.

When someone is counting on you, you deliver.

It matters.

 

That’s what you taught me. Not because you said it. Because you did it.

I watched it.

I watched you do it my entire life.

 

How does it not matter anymore?

How do you get a pass all of a sudden?

Upside-down.

Wrong.

 

It was a Lee. Lee. day.

We all had tickets.

Leelee had a ticket.

 

It was her day.

And you didn’t show up.

 

Wrong.

Upside-down.

 

You should have been here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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