And, that's what made me really sit up and pay attention to "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close," a film that looks at the aftermath of what happens to a family when the dad dies during the Twin Tower bombings of 9/11. Will I be around that long? And, if not, how do I plan for it?
Now, I'm not talking about a will. Sure, a will is important, as god forbid if something happens to me (and/or my wife) I want my child to be taken care of. But that's just one concern. My bigger concern is how will I be able to leave a piece of ME behind so my child never has to feel like I have abandoned her?
I accept my mortality- I could die tomorrow- and I don't want to leave my child wandering, wondering how I honestly and truly feel about her; how I honestly feel about life (and death); and how I really feel about the world I leave her to grow up in. Now, I could leave this up to a bunch of other people to fill in the blanks- people who think they know me (family, friends)- but I'd rather just cut out the middle men and do it myself.
|HERE'S SOMEONE WHO MIGHT HAVE BENEFITED FROM A LETTER FROM HIS OLD MAN|
What I’m proposing is a kind of living will, a journal, written solely from my unique perspective as “Dad.” Sure, it’s easy for me to do this as I’m a writer (sort of) and it’s not that hard for me to get my feelings on the page, but you try writing a letter to your child that explains each and every feeling you have about them, now and for the future. These will be my words- not my wife’s, not my siblings’, and not the words of some lawyer I hired to be the executor of my will. This is dad’s take on his relationship with his child, from the day she was born onward, updated periodically just to keep her on her toes. I mean, I sure hope I get to be around to tell my daughter what I really think of that guy she dates from grade 11 to 12, and I hope I get the opportunity to tell her that there a better fish in the sea when she dumps his ass for cheating on her with the school lunch lady, but there are no guarantees. So I may have to improvise and come up with a list of advice for all situations; for all contingencies.
I’ll be honest with you, I never thought of myself as a journal writer, but after watching this movie I’m inspired to leave my kid a few volumes on what she has meant to me over these last two years; how being her father has changed me as a person; and what I would like for her future (with no pressure of course). It’s just something that I think every child needs… well, that and an inheritance.
Maybe you should think about writing one too? After all, you’re not going to live forever and who better to hold the real book on you- the man, the legend- than your child? Just something to think about… when you’re crossing the street, or getting on a plane, or eating a hot dog. You know… that every day stuff that never killed anybody.
And, if you get a chance, please check out this great film.