It’s been a while. I don’t think I’ve spoken to you since that night I made my way to your gravesite and had trouble finding it. I was emotional, it was 3am, I was drunk and disappointed by the fact that I couldn’t find you. I yelled what I wanted to say to you into the night sky.
I want you to know we’re okay. You left a lot behind but what you taught me during the years we spent together helped me become the man I am today. What came after your death made me question everything you taught me. But I’m okay. We’re okay. We’ve got scars, but you told me girls think those are cool. Turns out that doesn’t really apply to emotional ones.
When I was in 3rd grade you and I built a mini-motorcycle. You found a scrapped frame in a junkyard, we fixed a snowblower motor to it and by the end of the summer we had built a bike. I was pumped to ride it. I took it out before we had finished the braking system, but I hounded you so hard you let me take it out for a ride. I smashed my head into a bus and you took me to the hospital. I needed 9 stitches and you held my hand while the doctor hovered a needle over my forehead. You told me we were almost done, the doctor told you not to lie to me since he hadn’t started yet. You just wanted me to be comfortable. I drew a motorcycle and a bus on your Father’s Day card because that was a moment where I knew you were there with me. You cried because you felt you didn’t deserve it. You should have given me a helmet. To me all that memory meant is that you loved me, and you were there to take care of me. I went to school in 4th grade and all my friends thought the scar was awesome.
You gave me my first job at the age of 12. You’d take me out to the pit and we’d shred black loam. It was the most boring job of all time. All I did was take sticks out of the loam before it hit the shredder. What I valued was the breaks and I think you did too. You’d take me to the quick-way and we’d grab coffee and hot chocolate. We’d just talk. On lunch breaks we’d take a half hour and go back to the house and you’d make me mac’n’cheese. For the next few days I’d be digging dirt out from under my fingernails, but you taught me about the value of a hard day’s work.
I threw my first party in the woods behind our house. It was high school, and I just wanted to get high and drink with my friends. I rallied a troop of 40 kids and we set up a bonfire. I smoked a bit and you came in with the tractor to break up the rally of hoodlums who were intruding on your property. I ran, scared. I made my way back towards the house a half hour later and you were waiting outside for me. I left. I went to Ray’s house and stayed until 2am. When I finally went home, you were asleep. We had to shred the next day and I dreaded the moment I had to face you. We got in the truck. Eventually you broke the silence with “Well, are you angry with me?” I was surprised, you should be angry with me. “No, why?” You responded with “Well, I broke up your party. Just do me a favour, I don’t care if you have bush parties, just don’t do them on my property. Also, stop hanging out with that Mitchel kid, he tried to offer me a beer while everyone else ran away.”
In college I’d date girls that weren’t right for me. You’d listen to me vent, never saying a word. You’d wait for me to finish and say one sentence at the end. Every time it was truth. It was the wisdom I needed to hear but I was too lovestruck to listen. You were a man of few words but the ones you iterated mattered.
You showed me what it is to be in a good relationship. You and Mom were the perfect couple. You never fought, you talked things through. You weren’t abusive, physically, verbally or emotionally. You set the bar for what a relationship should be. I’ll never forget that.
I moved to Toronto with hopes and dreams. You listened to them all. You saw the slow career path I was on and provided insight. I should have listened, but I didn’t. I was pumped up on titles and responsibility.
We regrouped in Sudbury for a family wedding. We all danced and laughed. I didn’t see the sadness in your eyes. The Sunday before going back home you asked me to go to A&W with you to pick up burgers. I initially refused since we were having fun at home. I saw that you wanted me to ride and said let’s go. We drove there, and you asked me if everything was okay with my motorcycle debt; if I needed help. I told you I was fine, I had already paid off the majority and I’d make the rest within the next few months. You nodded. You told me to hang up my suit when I got home, never know when you’ll need it. I didn’t see that as a sign because who the fuck would?
I drove back to Toronto that night and felt odd. I chalked it up to anxiety. I texted you saying I made it back okay. You texted back saying “Good to know you made it back, love you”
The next evening, I got a call. I picked up the phone and it was Mim. She told me I needed to get back home because you were dead. I told her to shut the fuck up, that’s not funny. She cried. Her friend picked up the phone and told me “Luc, you need to get home, your dad hung himself.” I yelled that they were lying. Then I called two friends. They came to the car and I cried. I was lost. I’d love to say that feeling leaves but when a parent takes the route you did, that feeling never leaves. It’s been six years now, I think I have the authority to say that.
My friends got me on a bus and I went home. Mom was comforting when she picked me up at 2am with Uncle Don. Both assumed the role that was forced upon them. Mom was there to pick up the pieces you left even though she was more traumatized than we could have known.
Since then, I’ve spent a lot of nights trying to make sense of why you killed yourself. Your life wasn’t perfect, and you had a lot of burdens. I’ve discussed it with friends and family many, many, many times. We’ll never know why you chose the way out you did. I don’t judge you for it. I don’t know the emotional impact of having to head a family who was shattered by your father’s alcoholism. I don’t know how it felt to be left at a flooring job in Val Therese and having to walk home because your drunk father was at the Tavern and wouldn’t pick you up. I don’t know what it’s like to dedicate your life to a family business and still have to buy your way in, only to find out some of your shares were stolen by other family members. I don’t know what it’s like to birth children and have your son talk more than he listens.
It’s been turbulent since you left us. I’ve dreamt of you many times and each time you reassured me that it was all a bad dream, you had just taken a vacation and you were back. I woke up crying. I wanted to go back to sleep to see you again.
We’re still a fragmented family. We barely see your side of the family anymore, it’s divided now. Holidays are different. Mom has done her best to make it a full home but there will always be a void. You left a daughter that loved you and wanted to fill your shoes since she’s been a child. Now that example is shattered.
I always wanted what you and Mom had. I wanted that perfect relationship where you don’t fight, you solve problems through conversation. You left me wondering if the cost of that is eventually suicide. I know that isn’t the case, logically, but there’s a part of me that will never see that kind of relationship the same way. You shattered the idea of a nuclear family for us.
Since you left, I started my own shoe company and it had a small amount of success. It afforded me the opportunity to try things out on my own.
I also dated a girl for five years. She’s a beautiful person, you would have liked her. She introduced me to travel and I've seen a lot of Europe thanks to her. I've driven through to LA and back, I would have loved to share those crazy stories with you. Mim’s moved on from being the manager of a Subway to working in much more fulfilling career choice. Mom’s still holding down the fort but it’s not without the scars you left behind. We’re doing okay.
We’re doing okay. It’s not without the sleepless nights, yelling at the sky from a point of desperation, night terrors, questioning my view of relationships and life as I know it. It’s not without questioning that if I’m a part of you, am I not subject to take the same route one day? It’s not without the tears, the need for support, trying to fill that god damned void you left. The worst part? You chose this. It wasn’t cancer, it wasn’t heart disease, it wasn’t something that you fought. It was your own choice. You chose to kill yourself instead of facing the next day. I’ll never understand why.
Maybe that’s the legacy you wanted to leave behind. Maybe you wanted us to think about you ever day. I do. Either way, I hope you've found the peace you seeked so desperately. Now if you'll excuse me, I’ll search for the broken pieces that you left behind at the bottom of this bottle of whiskey.