What I left behind? My courage. I know I must have had it at some point. I know she's in there somewhere. Memories of snakes around my neck, fearless lightning storms; where did it go? Did you take it with you when you left? Was that the first time or just the first time I remembered. And you would leave over and over again my entire life, until you left for good. I never saw that one coming. You were the strongest man I ever knew. I never thought you would cave. I thought you could handle it all. I never worried about you, even after you came home from the hospital, after you said you wanted to kill yourself. We sat on the back porch and you lied to me. I knew you were lying. You said you didn't really mean that, you just wanted to see Mom's reaction. I wanted to believe you. Part of me did. I wish I could have been there for you, like you needed me to be, but I needed you to be there for me too, but you were always gone. Always working . Always the money, it was never enough. You worked your whole life away, living in cheap motel rooms, paying for our mansion that you were a stranger in. I miss you so much, the you I got to have in magic doses when I was in trouble and had to have a talking to. You were so wise and such a good parent. I just wish things could have been different for you and I wish we could have had a real relationship. I wish I could have known you.

(On my relationship with my Dad. Remembering the first time he drove away, and I did not see him for what felt like a very long time. He left several times in my early childhood. He and my Mom separated several times and divorced at least once, maybe twice. Even once they stayed together, he was always gone, a traveling welder. That was the only way their relationship worked, completely separate. A business arrangement, sometimes a friendship on the telephone. Their marriage imploded after my brother died tragically in a car accident. This particular memory is from a few days before he committed suicide.)

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