Saturday, February 2, 2013

Cornelis Verhoeven, 2-2-1928

Today would have been my father's 85th birthday.

It's strange how much i still miss him, or rather, how little that has changed. He's being celebrated in Belgium with a day of lectures about his work, and i had the privilege to read one of those lectures. It is an impressive and beautiful essay, both intellectual and personal, close to the bone and sharp without being vicious or hurtful. But the author takes a step that made me feel very uncomfortable: he addressed dad with three questions.

In the almost twelve years he's been dead i've tried addressing him directly only once, in writing him a letter, and i gave up midway through my first paragraph. All i heard were my words echoing back from the nothingness he left, all it did was emphasize what was missing. His absence from my life is so monumental, and has been from the moment i saw him go, that i can't pretend he's around. Sometimes i desperately wish he was around, maybe not so much to ask questions, but more to just be around him, smell him, share a smile with him over coffee, feel what the house is like when he's concentrating on his work. It's the corner of his mouth, the exhale in the pause of a sentence, the twinkle when he raised his eyes to meet yours -tiny things, millions of them. All that is missing, still, and will be, forever, and addressing him for me is just a needless pointing out what is no longer there.

But i admire it, like i admire people who can pray and mean it. There'll never be an answer to his questions but that doesn't make them any less viable -i just couldn't have asked them. Hell, i probably couldn't have made them up -my dad couldn't swim but i drown in less than half an inch of philosophy. All i can do, the closest i get to having him about, is reading him and translating him. So that's what i do. An essay that makes me feel close to him, because it's about water, and i can relate. You can find it here, on his blog: