My dad died last year and I just don’t really know what to do with myself anymore. I know your dad died when you were my age, I think, so how do I be, like, normal again?
Really hope you write back,
I’m the wrong guy to ask about normalcy. I haven’t been normal since the third grade when I peed my pants onstage at a school assembly.
Even our school nurse remarked, “That child’s one rung short of a step ladder.”
She was right. But then, I don’t believe in “normal.” It’s a made-up word. And not that it matters, but I don’t believe in magic beanstalks, pop-stars, Florida Powerball, high cholesterol, or daylight saving time, either.
Years ago, while driving through South Alabama, I saw something. It was an overcast day and the world was colorless. My wife and I had just left a funeral. There was a sadness over our vehicle.
We rode through miles of farmland. My wife yelled, “LOOK!”
I glanced out the window. It was spectacular. I pulled into a cow pasture. We stepped out. We ran through acres of cow pies and green grass.
And so help me, the colors were touching the ground. The tail was diving into the dirt like a spotlight. I’d never seen anything like it.
The cows watched us with big eyes while we behaved like six-year-olds. We took turns swatting the colors. I don’t know exactly why we did this, but I would’ve regretted not doing it.
Here’s where it gets somewhat magical.
The colors disappeared when I got too close. They reappeared when I took several steps back.
Closeup; gone. Far away; voila. The colors were there, but not always visible.
Eventually, the sun came out and the rainbow vanished completely.
We hiked back to the truck. I took in a breath of morning air and I felt like I’d seen a miracle. It’s not every day you see colors from heaven, touching dirt.
My wife cried. I cried. It wasn’t a sad cry. It was the kind you do after a baseball game, or at a surprise birthday party, or when you find a lost dog.
I was thinking of my father. He loved rainbows. And I cried because even though I couldn’t see him up close, I believe he is out there.
Listen, I’m not a particularly smart man, friend. But then, you don’t have to be smart to know what I know. Life evaporates. It rises toward heaven so quick that you’re lucky if you catch a glimpse.
It reaches the top of the world, then it disappears and all we’re left with are gray clouds and rain.
But, if you are fortunate enough to have known a soul who lit up the sky, you can bet you were lucky. And so was I.
And we can thank heaven that we saw the tails of a rainbow—even if only for a moment. A miracle. We can remember their colors, even though we can’t see them.
I guess what I’m saying is: don’t forget your daddy. Cry for him until you can’t. Talk about him too much. Tell his stories. Pull over in cattle pastures to chase rainbows.
And for God’s sake, whatever you do, don’t let this world make you normal.
You’re too beautiful for that.
Write me anytime, brother.