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5 Questions I Ask Myself Nightly Since My Father’s Sudden Death

“Life is for the living. Death is for the dead. Let life be like music. And death a note unsaid.” ~Langston Hughes

Nine years ago, I was sitting mindlessly in my office cubicle in Omaha, Nebraska, when the receptionist called to inform me that my dad was in the lobby.

I walked out to greet him: He was happy, smiling, and donning one of his favorite double-breasted suits. He was there because he needed my signature on some tax preparation forms before he handed them over to his accountant. My dad always took care of things like that.

It was a Friday in February, late morning. We briefly discussed getting lunch but ultimately decided not to in the interest of time. We would see each other over the weekend, anyway. After all, we were planning a trip.

A week prior, my dad told me he wanted to take me to Vegas for my thirtieth birthday. I’d never been to Vegas. There were things to discuss, hotel rooms to book, concert tickets to buy.

I signed the tax forms, thanked my dad, and walked back to my cubicle. I don’t remember anything else about this day. It was, in fact, just like any other day. It was ordinary. Humdrum, you might say.

But the next day…

The next day is forever seared into the pathways of my hippocampus, every detail a tattoo on my mind’s eye.

Because the next day…

That’s the day my dad .

I remember the morning phone call I got from my sister.

9:38 a.m.

I remember running to my car, half a block up Howard Street, and then another block down 12th. I remember the whipping wind and the stinging cold. I remember the saplings lining the streets of downtown, their branches brittle and bare, scratching the ether like an old lady’s fingers.

I remember the seventeen-minute drive to the hospital.

I remember the hospital,

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