It was the Thursday after the Sunday.
Daddy left on June 22. Last year, it was a Thursday. This year, it will be a Friday.
Last year, I switched my court week with another judge, so I was on the bench on that Thursday.
Last week, I had my June Thursday.
I will forever hate my June Thursday. Because I can still remember. I can still remember this. Even if it occurs the week before. Whenever I have a June Thursday, I’m going to think about how it felt for that door to open, how those few, glorious seconds of sitting at my bench felt before I knew.
I am hyper-aware that I am on a countdown to Daddy’s leaving, but I measure it in days, not dates. Friday, June 22, will no doubt be hard to bear.
But I am more scared of Thursday.
Because the Thursday before the Saturday, the Thursday after the Sunday, was when I remember him leaving. He left us on a Thursday. A regular ole Thursday. A court day. Two days before we were to go on vacation. A hot day. A busy day. My Sheriff’s Department day.
But my countdown to Daddy’s leaving will always start with Father’s Day because it will always be on a Sunday. Always.
So, forever until the end of time, Father’s Day will always be the Sunday before the Thursday.
Last year, on the Sunday before the Thursday, Mama cooked him his standard Father’s Day lunch: mashed potatoes, fried chicken, fried okra, lady peas. I gave him a card that told him how sorry I was that I hadn’t figured out what kind of lawyer I wanted to be and that I would fix it so he wouldn’t worry about me. Leelee gave him a rock. He brought Mac leftover Honey mashed potatoes that night, and I hugged him and cried. He came in my door with a real smile, telling me with his whole self not to worry about him, but I cried anyway because I wanted more than anything for him to be his real self.
I don’t really remember much about the Monday before the Thursday. Maybe that is why, today, on this Monday before the Thursday, it hasn’t been terrible.
But on the Tuesday before the Thursday, I went to the Pig to get some lunch, and I passed him. He was in his truck headed toward the Pig as I was turning out of the Pig headed back toward the court. He turned on West Academy to make the loop, I feel sure thinking I was going to turn around, too, and meet him in the Pig parking lot. Instead, I kept going, and instead, I talked to him on the phone. He said mama was cooking bacon for bacon and tomato sandwiches, and he asked me if I wanted to come to eat lunch with them. I actually did….I never turn down a bacon and tomato sandwich, and I feel certain the tomatoes Mama was peeling and slicing while he was talking to me on the phone were from Travis Putnam’s garden, but I had just bought lunch from the Pig and I had to get back to the court. So I told him, “Thank you,” and told him to tell Mama, “Thank you,” but that I would have to see them later.
If you only knew how badly I wish I had thrown that Pig lunch in the garbage and gone to their house to eat with them.
If you only knew.
Later, after I ate my Pig lunch instead of a bacon and tomato sandwich, and after my Tuesday before the Thursday court session, I walked out into the parking lot of the court to talk on my cell phone to my daddy’s best friend. We talked for almost an hour about my daddy. We came up with a plan. I was going to flesh this whole “depression” thing out in the Bahamas, where my entire family was to go for vacation on the Saturday after the Thursday, and Steve was leaving that up to me. He thought Daddy may talk to me if he could just relax, or if he could just be removed from our little world, or if he could just get some sleep. Steve and I both thought I could get some time with my Daddy in the Bahamas in order to get the real My-Daddy back.
But that same Tuesday night before the Thursday was Box Fan night. On the Tuesday before the Thursday, after Steve and I devised The Plan, my daddy sat on my couch beside my mama, watching me try to fit a fan into a suitcase. He was extremely concerned about getting to the Bahamas without a box fan. I wrote about it here.
Daddy couldn’t sleep without a box fan, and I think he really hoped he would sleep in the Bahamas.
But I couldn’t figure out the box fan, and then he left on Thursday, and we didn’t go to the Bahamas on Saturday, and now he sleeps forever.
This weekend, I flew on an airplane for the first time since Daddy left, and I checked a box fan as part of my luggage. And it made it to my hotel just fine.
I have never been so sad as I was when I realized how easy it was to fly with a box fan.
On the Wednesday before the Thursday, Daddy took Mac to get a haircut. Sometimes I wonder if he did so because he wanted him to be presentable for his funeral, which we didn’t let him attend, and he should have known we wouldn’t. Sometimes, I wonder if he just wanted to spend a little time with Mac before he left without letting Mac know he was fixing to leave. Sometimes I wonder if he knew he would be leaving the next day at all, and he just thought Mac’s hair could use a trim.
I’ll always wonder about all of it, but no one will ever be able to answer me.
On the Wednesday before the Thursday, I went to Mama and Daddy’s house to pick up Mac in the early evening, and they both met me outside. I got out of my car, and I hugged my daddy, and I kissed him on his cheek, and I told him thanks for taking Mac to get a haircut, and then I got in my car and I drove away, because it was court week and I was always brain-tired on court weeks at that time of the day.
I was ready to get home.
I had no way of knowing it was the Wednesday before the Thursday.
I can’t remember if I told Daddy I loved him. I think I did, because I was trying to say it an awful lot during that time, but if I did, I said, “Love you,” and he said, “Me too.”
That was Daddy’s equivalent of Patrick Swayze’s response to the same in the movie, Ghost.
“Ditto,” Patrick Swayze’s character would say.
“Me, too,” Daddy would say.
Neither seemed to understand that even if they meant it the same, it wasn’t the same.
There is no substitute for I love you.
Especially coming from your daddy who decides to leave you the next day.
I can’t remember if he said, “Me too,” but I know for sure he didn’t say, “I love you.”
And then, it was the Thursday.
And in three days, it will be the Thursday again.
Even if it isn’t the exact date, it will be the day to me.
Because Daddy decided to leave us on the Thursday after the Father’s Day Sunday, the Thursday after the non-descript Monday, the Thursday after the tomato sandwich, Steve-plan, box fan Tuesday, the Thursday after the Mac haircut, no-I-love-you Wednesday…
…and because there was no way to prepare for the Thursday after the Sunday one year ago today, I now know there is no way to prepare for the Thursday after the Sunday one year later.
There is no bunker strong enough to hold what Thursday will bring.
There is no underground room that can silence the screams of the Thursday a year ago.
There is no preparation that can calm the turbulence my soul experienced on the Thursday after the Sunday one year ago.
And there is nothing I can do to not feel it, all over again.
Because Thursday is Doomsday.
And there is no possible way to prepare for the kind of destruction that shatters the life of a little girl who loved her daddy.