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My Father's Final Voicemail

Today has been a long time coming.

I say this not only because today is Father’s Day, but because today is the day I have decided to make a decision.

Today, I will be removing my father’s name, and phone number, from my cell phone.

As some of you may already be aware: my father unexpectedly passed away on Halloween day of 2020. His death was sudden, unexpected, and, in many ways, incredibly traumatic. I won’t go into details about what happened, nor have I in the past, nor probably ever will in the future. This is because, in many ways, death is a personal thing. What you believe has happened before. What you believe when it will happen. What you believe will happen after it happens. It’s easy to say that death, as universal a reality as it happens to be, is incredibly complex. Religion has tried to answer this question for hundreds of years. Science has tried to do it just the same. But in the end, what it all comes down to is that death, in many ways, is simply the end.

But it can also be the beginning.

I learned this the hard way when, around 11:30 PM on Halloween night, I received a call from a family member who let me know what had happened.

The process of what happens after ‘The End’ was something I had only dealt with a few times — mainly being: the death of my grandparents. But the death of a parent, in many ways, is different. For many, their parents are around them from the time they are born, until the time they leave home; and even afterward, from the time until they eventually leave this planet. It is a reality many of us experience, regardless of what comes between The Beginning and The End. In that regard, it can be said that a parent’s death is one of the hardest things of all.

For nearly two years, I have kept my father’s information in the contacts section of my iPhone —and upon it: the voicemails that he left me.

The last one I received was on October 27th, 2020, at 12:51 AM. He was at work during this voicemail — bored on the nightshift, he’d said.

And that, my friends, is the last physical record I have of his life.

Today isn’t going to be easy. It wasn’t last year, nor will it probably be next year, or even the year after that, or even the years that follow. Regardless, I know one thing is for certain:

I will always have those memories.

In an unpublished article I wrote last year, I described my father as a man who, though haunted by many things in his life, was a kind and gentle soul. I stated that he never left anyone behind, and that he was always willing to help others. I also shared a memory that I will never forget—of a time when, as a teenager, I woke to find him reading something I’d written and printed out, and him saying that I would go somewhere someday.

In that article, I said I still kept his name in my contacts.

Today, I am setting that part of him free.

So, on this day of mourning, and this day of reflection, I remember the last words he said to me before he said that final goodbye.

I’m proud of you.

I hold those words close to heart today, and every day.

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