Well, I sat down to write this stupid letter that will never reach you. I wanted music. I typed “Neil Young” into Pandora, and guess what happened. The Needle And The Damage Done. How fucking fitting, huh?
I started out with “Dear Dad,” but I don’t even remember if that’s what I used to call you. This is the 23rd Father’s Day that I’ve been fatherless. I was in a car with a pretty girl the other night, driving out of Huntington. We went down Depot Rd, which I haven’t been down in years. I started rambling at her, and she was kind enough to listen. But I remembered that time you and I were coming back from somewhere and we had to walk that long long walk all the way down Depot Rd. I don’t remember where we were coming from. I don’t remember what we were wearing or anything. I remember it was warm and it was daytime, going towards evening. I told this pretty girl that parts of my life feel like they’re being erased as I get older, like Eternal Sunshine (a movie that came out way after you died). I talk about things sometimes, just to try and keep myself from forgetting. But the truth? The truth is that I am sometimes terrified that I soon won’t remember anything about you. Except the few bad things that I know I’ll never forget.
I remember the knives and the blood. I remember the liquor store lollipops. I remember seeing you face-down on the bed, and I remember Noreen’s voice calling your name in crescendo. Each time she said “Bobby,” she got louder and louder, and you became deader and deader. I remember the swirl of the blue ambulance lights seeming blurry to me because I was exhausted and confused and five years old. And I remember never seeing you again after that. I remember starting first grade a few months later and feeling very, very strange when I started to understand that other children had mommies and daddies. That was the normal thing. And I didn’t have either. I knew, I think from then on, that my life was going to be an uphill climb. Or, at the very least, I’d probably spend a lot of time looking in from outside.
But I’m 28 now. I’m getting old. I’ve got plenty of grey hairs on my head and face, some of which are falling out. I am getting old, but I’m getting better. Even as I write this, knowing this is new for me, I feel myself healing. I am going to get past it. I may always be a little bit sad inside, I always have been, but I think I can live with that. But I am not going to disappear into forever, at a too-young age, just like you did. Nope.
I’m getting sidetracked. I’ve never written you a letter, so I probably have way too much to say; staying focused is a challenge. But okay.
I used to fucking hate your fucking guts. I used to be terrified that I was doomed to be just like you. I used to ask a billion questions every night. My entire life now, basically, I’ve pretended that you can hear me. I guess I’m still doing it. Only, I don’t hope/wait for a response anymore. But if I could tell you things about the way your actions effected me, I would tell you this stuff:
I can’t fucking sleep, asshole. Since I’m five. I just lay there and think. And when I’m not trying to sleep, I just sit there and think. It’s your fault. Also, all the drugs I did? Your fault too. Not my fault. Yours. And when I got old enough to hear that your death “may not have been an accident,” I lost my fucking mind for years. I’ve had DOZENS of nervous breakdowns over the years. Becuase you left me stranded here, with the emotional capacity of a five-year-old boy… you left me here by myself to grow up and figure everything out for myself. This destroyed me for a long, long time. And the thing where you told the rest of the family to keep me away from my mother? Yeah, I’d like to say “FUCK YOU” for that one. Asshole. Bad enough I had to spend my life with no dad, but you played a big part in taking my mother away too. I’m not sure if I’ll ever forgive you for that one.
She, from what I know, was an incredible lady. I know she was as fucked up as you were. But I at least have always had your side of the family to tell me about your good qualities. You took her away, and you subsequently tooke away half of my identity. Again, you’re an asshole for that. But guess what. I found them. Ha! I was 24 and having another nervous breakdown and I fucking found them. And I have a half-brother too. And a bunch of interesting people related to my mom, and they’ve told me a lot of things that made me feel whole. I understand myself better now. I laugh at my talking-my-way-out-of-trouble skills (something you never had), because they told me all about how my mother was a very smooth talker. And there are other things I learned, and pictures I saw… I don’t want to tell you. Because those are private things between me and my mom. I just want you to know that you failed. I found her. And even though she was dead too by then, I know her now. I understand her. And I love her. And I forgive her.
And for you, all of the sad memories I have, all your bad decisions, your decision to give up… I forgive you for that. I forgive you for leaving me to fend for myself. I need time with the whole stripping-me-of-my-fucking-mom thing. But everything else? Water under the bridge. I know you were hurting. Perpetually hurting. I understand. And I’m sorry. And I hope that if your soul still exists somewhere in the ether, I really do hope you feel okay. Shit happens, man.
And I’m gonna be okay. I know it now more than I ever have before.
You’re dead, so I assume you don’t read my blog much. But can I just tell you how much of an awesome decision this was?! I write every day now. And even if it sucks, it gets written down. And it’s therapeutic in ways I never imagined. I feel… accomplished. My bad days now… they’re not nearly as bad as they used to be. The rainclouds seem to slowly be drifting away from me.
And I’m 28 now. I’m still relatively unsuccessful, but fuck it. Life has been weird and fun and just… amazing for me. I’ve recorded a bunch of music that makes me feel like an autistic Mozart. I was a DJ for a while and got to play a lot of loud music in the city at night and it felt amazing to see the “On Air” sign lit up while I was wishing everyone in radioland a lovely Friday night, and I was getting them started with beautiful “go out and LIVE” music. I have traveled all over the country, lived all over the country. I have met friends from everywhere. I have vomited on city sidewalks at 3am after amazing nights that will never be forgotten. I have enjoyed philosophical talks with homeless prophets, I have cursed out movie stars, I have taken and given, I have seen so much. I have stood three feet from the loudest guitar amps I’ve ever known, and I have felt the hand of God on my cheek. God is probably Japanese and in a band called Mono, by the way. I have eaten LSD and seen the sounds come out of the speakers and pull tears out my eyes and the sounds have conjured the tears to tell me that “all is well and all is love and all will always be.”
Dad, your son has lived. And your son will continue to do so. And when I am almost dead, my story will be a proud one. No matter where I go from here, I’ve already done enough to feel satisfied. And this, my latest revelation, is the reason why I know that I am going to be alright. I have lived the shit out of my life, and I continue to do so. And I’ve done it my own way, because that was my only option. I am strong. I am powerful. I am amazing. I am relentless. I am a force of nature. I am unstoppable and unshakable. And all of this? All of this is your fault.
And that’s why, no matter what you’ve done, I love you. I miss you, but I love you.
This is my first Happy Father’s Day letter to you. But I’m thinking it might not be my last.
I hope your soul is safe somewhere, and I hope it sleeps well tonight. If souls need sleep. Whatever.
your only son,
Robert Anthony Boylan