Ripple Effect

2018.06.17-dadWhen he came down into the main house to make breakfast, his parents were both in the living room and having a discussion of some kind, like about therapy or something else. Whether it sounded serious or playful, he couldn’t quite tell. He glanced in around the corner from the kitchen at them, and his father asks, “Come sit down and listen to this … something happened.”

Something … happened? It sounded like bad news.

There would be crying.

“You’re having a ripple effect.”

What the hell had happened now?

And then his father began reading the lyrics aloud from a laptop screen. And on the inside, he couldn’t believe it. He said, like once, maybe you should just try writing something. Twice, at most, as best he could remember. And then he had set about just doing this writing thing for himself, daily, diligently. It wasn’t intentionally an example, he thought, but perhaps that was a side effect, a ripple.

And they were good lyrics. At the second verse his father began to shake in what always at first looked like laughter but then the tears came, like they had so many times. “I wrote that about you,” his father said.  He was nervous for a moment, uncertain, like he always had been at first, whenever it got serious and real.

“Would you like me to read them for you?” he joked. They held each others hand in this tender and supportive but still seemingly masculine father-son kind of way for a moment. It was one of his go-to inside lines about a really sad but beautiful time that had slowly become a kind of sweet joke but that he sometimes worried was almost too much. His father couldn’t read the eulogy. He’d tried. It was just too much. So he, the son, read it, no problem. No tears. No, the joke wasn’t too much. It always seemed to be the relief needed.

There wasn’t a clear chorus yet, amongst the lyrics, but that wasn’t a problem. It was really good. And of course there were tears; it was an emotional thing to do. To actually start the thing you’d been thinking about, that others had been suggesting you do.That second verse had been about him, and how hard was it, when you’d just been doing and working but listening and playing and all of that had to get bottled up somewhere, and what a tender and intense relief it was to finally get those words out. Of getting out of your own way. Of waking up and wanting to write, instead of all the other things.

And what did the son think? He was proud. Beaming, nearly. But also, for some reason, embarrassed. He didn’t actually want to take any credit for the ripple effect, but clearly, reluctantly saw how he couldn’t extricate himself from the pond. They were all in it now, whatever this future was, and it was kind of weird and kind of wild. And what a thing it was, he noticed with a clear insight at the start of the weekend, to be able to see his father cry today, and share, and be vulnerable.


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