seven years ago today, my mom called me at sunrise to tell me that my stepdad had died overnight, in the hospice wing of the hospital, his brain hopelessly speckled with inoperable tumors. I can still remember his ridiculous, raucous laugh; the way we always teased him about his hair thinning; the grease always on his hands and under his nails from all the cars he worked on during the day; the sound of his voice as it carried from the full mechanic's garage we'd built next to the house, mingled with the sounds of the lift and the air compressor; his exuberant smile; his ridiculously short shorts; the smell of motor oil on his coat, cold from being outside.
I'll never forget the way I drove through the back roads of my hometown in early fall, a beautiful day, all the colors changing, and thought, 'I recognize there is beauty here, but it is not for me.'
nor will I ever forget the days following the funeral, absurdly nice outside, when one afternoon my mom, my siblings, and I drove to the hanover playground and played the longest and most intense game of freeze tag of my life. we played for over an hour, running like crazy through that most amazing of playgrounds, laughing and squealing. they were eight years old. afterwards we sat on the bank of the susquehanna river, in the sun. all of that impossibly incongruous, but real.
seven years. it gets easier, but also, it doesn't. we miss you, stevie.