“I wish we had Daddy’s voice.”
My hands slip on the rough cords, a misstep unnoticed by him but a reminder of the little nuances that jar our contented daily existence. He has never said this before, but this simple statement is just enough to let failure and her malicious sibling, guilt, crash our party. Like unwelcome guests that leave without cleaning up after themselves, they whisper in my ear.
Should have … If only … Don’t you wish … Why didn’t …
In the hours and days and weeks that followed, his voice and his laughter went silent as “he’s not okay” thundered through my head. The mother that once shared her fear now watched as her daughter fought against it as his voice slipped away with each passing moment. While bodies around me pushed me to make decisions about healthcare and finances, funeral arrangements and medical records, I obsessed over the sound of his voice and the feel of his touch. Silent tears in dark corners as he told me to “leave a message, and I’ll call you back.”
But he never did.
We should have bought the video camera we meant to, but didn’t. If only I could watch as he carried her sleepy body down the hall, whispering “I love you, sweetie” for just one more night. I wish he was standing beside me tonight, his voice echoing across the arena as his son takes the ice.
Why didn’t he record a longer message?
It is the last trace of the voice that celebrated our victories and soothed our fears. The voice tinged with laughter at home, and commanding on the job. The voice we belonged to and believed in, and that belonged to and believed in us.
And on the eve of his birthday, it is once again unbelievably close and incredibly loud.
“Sweetheart, I know you can’t hear it, but it’s there. It will always be there.”