There's this thing that happens to me when I get startled, scared, or shocked. I've never told anyone this (lucky you!), but in my head, I call it "tinglefingers." Its cutesy name belies the disconcerting sensation it describes: As the jolt of adrenaline begins to dissipate, it leaves a tingling sensation in my hands. The one time I have tried to describe this phenomenon to a group of people (in the manner of "Don't you hate it when...?"), I was met with blank stares, so I don't talk about it much.
Anyway. Today is the one-month anniversary (month-aversary?) of Dad's departure from this world. I happened to be going through some photos from my brother's beautiful wedding this summer, in which I was Best Man. I came across this one, and two things immediately happened. First, I thought, "Wow, Carl's wedding was July 30--that's four months ago tomorrow!" And second, I realized--with a jolt of horror--that the man in the photo with me would be dead less than three months later. Which was where the tinglefingers came in.
Part of me wants to interview that me from four months ago. Part of me wants to climb inside her mind, knowing what I know now. To whisper in her ear, "Make this moment count. Memorize his laugh, the way the outer ends of his mustache lift when he smiles, the exact shade of his blue eyes. Dance with him; concentrate on the smooth, strong warmth of his hands and the way he smells of soap and just a tiny bit of Old Spice. Tell him how much you love him. Get him to tell you all his stories. Hold on to him. Don't let go. And for GOD'S SAKE, girl, make it count."
But would I want her to do anything differently, even if I could tell her what was in store? She is having such a good time--they both are. You can tell just by looking at them, can't you? Would I really want to ruin a joyful evening by telling the woman in this photo that, after tonight, she will never again see her father standing on his own two feet?
I know what's in store for her. For him. I know that in three weeks he will be in a hospital bed in London with a tube down his throat and that she will receive an email from her mother saying he has leukemia. And she will go see him, and she will do so many of those things I'd suggest: She will drink in his face; she will record his voice; she will tell him, over and over, how much she loves him.
So maybe I'll let her have a good time--just for this last night together. Maybe I'll spare her a case of tinglefingers. Her only tingles tonight should--and do--come from joy.