How Stories End

Dad and Silas

I have been very lucky in life to experience less than my fair share of loss and grief. Being a rookie made the last two-and-a-half years that much more difficult. My father’s diagnosis of terminal Leukemia at the age of sixty-eight nearly melted me. I thought he and I had so much more time; that he would live to be influential on Silas and Arlo as they grew up; that he would teach them things I couldn’t say; communicate ideas with simplicity and truth in ways only the best grandfathers can.

So rattled that day in November of 2012, I slid into an obsessive state in which I could do little else but write about Dad, about my childhood, my adolescence, and his integral role in making me who I am. As he grew sicker, and the circumstance more grim, I came to understand that the authenticity, candidness, and honesty of our relationship would serve as a foundation for how we approached its corporeal end. Humor and pragmatism, mixed with armchair oncology fueled us for two years.

My book, “Rock, Meet Window: A Father-Son Story” unpacks the new perspective I gained on the past, connecting it to what was my new reality of the present. It begins with his diagnosis and ends two years later with a restrained optimism that Dad might somehow escape the fate prescribed by his doctors.

What isn’t in the book, however—the part of the narrative that was impossible to tell because of a firm publication date and my feeling of how best to cap our story—is Dad’s death on January 26th of this year.

While he was sick, and during those respites when he was not, the book I was writing became an emotional buffer for us. I would send him passages that he would sometimes read from a hospital bed, other times from the comfort of his leather sofa in the T.V room. We laughed about buying (and later smoking) medical marijuana together the month prior, cringed over his wanton use of the word semen when speaking to a nurse, and quibbled over the details of how exactly it came to pass that I was baptized three times. There was a comfort in talking about our experience of his illness, about our lives together, which might not have been possible without the emotional space that storytelling creates.

Friends asked if it was hard for me to write this book. It wasn’t. But nor was it necessarily therapeutic. In those increasingly fleeting moments when I would find myself in the swell of a creative wave, the process was more of a lucid nap—a time when I could freely, without the nagging voice of my internal critic, create a constellation of memories and meaning. Feeling both refreshed and empty, I would awaken with a sliver more clarity, unsure of exactly how I achieved it. Of course, that left much work to be done later when I had to not only listen to the critic, but also provide him a comfortable place to sit on my shoulder and fashion him a miniature megaphone he could use to amplify his tinny voice into my ringing ears.

And now that the book is done and nearing its release date, I’m left grieving without Dad, without the storytelling buffer that steered us through the dark thickets and made the times of hope feel like something more.

In the prologue of “Rock, Meet Window” I expressed my desire for Dad to read the finished product, to hold the book in his hands. And he did—a flimsy, paperback advanced copy at least. “You’ve given the greatest gift a person can give,” he said. “You’ve immortalized me.” Honestly, Dad, it was the least I could do.

Starting today, for a limited time, you can download a Kindle preview of the book on Amazon. If you enjoy it, I hope you buy it. The pre-order page on my publisher’s site is live as well. They are giving away signed copies of my previous book This is Ridiculous This is Amazing to a few lucky buyers.

I'm a contributing writer to Parents Magazine, GQ, Psychology Today and some others. My book, "This is Ridiculous. This is Amazing: Parenthood in 71 Lists" is available here Look for two more books in 2015: "Must. Push. Buttons (Bloomsbury Kids), and an as-of-yet untitled memoir I’ve appeared on Comedy Central’s “Live at Gotham” and “Nick Mom’s Night Out." I live in New Jersey with my wife and two sons and enjoy making them laugh more than anyone else.

12 comments On How Stories End

  • de geur slaat als het ware op mijn en dan gaat de huid rondom mijn ogen opzwellen en word knalrood en jeukerig. Door testjes(bij een dermatoloog) ben ik er gelukkig achtergekomen dat het van de nagellak kwam, want het is echt geen gezicht!

  • I love this story, Peg.Guess what? I have a wee-little tree on the piano that I put up last year. Everything got put away last year except that one and YAY me it’s November– I don’t have to set up that one–it’s still there in time–er, early for the season.

  • Glory, you are frickin’ adorable! Also loved the choice of music. <3 RATM!! Only thing I had a hard time with was the myiasis. Massive quantities of maggots squick me the f*ck out. But otherwise, I recognized all the other videos, soooo… well, we know what that means! I’d have to give it 4 stars, simply because I can’t deal with the maggots.Next time I’d like a warning, please, Halphie!!Well-loved.

  • OK, not kidding, there is NO WAY I could have these around my house! I have bought similar items before and they disappeared way too quickly, haha! BUT, these look awesome! They would be fabulous as a little gift!Little Kitchie recently posted…

  • It’s evident that you have gone to a lot of trouble researching and writing this information. I share your viewpoint and believe you have represented it in a unique way.

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