Perhaps tomorrow. Or in my fifties. Maybe when I’m one-hundred-and-twelve. In any case, I will die one day. For good, my heart will literally skip every future beat, my lungs will seize on a cold breath, my tongue will fall limp between molars and my fingers will no longer have a ‘thing’ for the backspace key. In the day or two just after, my milk will begin to sour, my mailbox will become over-stuffed with pizza coupons and offers for guaranteed life insurance, and knocks at the door will eventually give way to forced entry. Shortly, I’ll either be burned or buried at the discretion of those who thought they knew me best, and few beyond immediate family will be saddened because I kept so very few close. Thereafter, my name will be charged late fees and evicted for non-payment, my truck will be involuntarily repossessed and what’s left of my deodorant will imperceptibly improve the air quality above a tiny corner of some distant landfill. My photographs will be passed out and pasted in books or hidden away in a folder on somebody’s hard drive, my estate will eventually lose half its value on the electric bill alone because I liked it chilly and, to some, my writings might become slightly more meaningful. And the whale of time will swim powerfully on, after having gaped and hungrily gulped my every adventure whole, my every mundane moment, my every act of heroism or chivalry, my every selfish or near-sighted mistake and every word I ever dared pen to frame them.
How small am I? I imagine the answer, if depicted, would look something like a Koch curve. That said, I’ll settle for being assigned a tiny triangle on the southernmost point of infinity. Nonetheless, significantly insignificant no matter how you stretch the perspective. And I’m at peace with that. More importantly, I am humbled by it, given reason to reach in it and use it for a reference to reverence.
But, undeservedly, I do know three people who consider me a larger-than-life leviathan: my three daughters. I’m on the clock with their unfettered esteem, of course, as they are still young, sweetly innocent and rosily forward-looking. I adore these qualities about them, but less than I adore them completely, and they will never fully comprehend the massive system of stars and worlds within my grateful heart they set spinning with just a smile. As a single father, I have no cause on earth, under even the most ambitious designs of the universe, greater than that of being their Daddy. I’ve been entrusted with the job, perhaps laughably, and I’d like to think I’m passably good at it, aside from loving to suit up for it each and every day. I am thankful for that gift; quietly, single-mindedly, fiercely thankful. Moment by moment, these girls validate, teach and uplift me. They are hope and laughter, light and dance, forgiveness and warmth, trust and truth. They are shifting colors upon one beautifully formed, sorrow-sinking, grin-inducing, always-in-hand skipping stone. When the fog of living drifts in, as it inevitably and randomly does, letting that stone loose across the lake of life is like chasing clouds into sunshine and watching each ray pour into and oxidize whatever shadows remain. For me, they’re like a life-support apparatus built out of kaleidoscopes, bottled giggles and hair-scrunchies. They are irrefutable proof that love is real. And, further still, they are ever-inspiring proof that I am both worthy and willingly capable of it.
Not only does that make me unafraid of missing my one-hundred-and-twelfth birthday, it makes me feel like I’m doing some pretty big things in the here and now, to heck with Koch.