July 07, 2003

mailing the dead

I was thinking just now, and I don't know why, except that I was paying bills online, and maybe that had something to do with it, me and my legacy of account numbers, I was thinking about how much mail came for my father, and for how long, after he died.

I was eleven and the mail would still come. A piece here, a piece there, falling through the cracks and into our mailbox. Me hoping for a package from the American Quarter Horse Association, and instead finding an envelope addressed to Alphonse Dimino, 217 Somershire Drive, our new address, our home without him, after leaving the farm he made for us and relocating to a small house in the suburbs.

Sifting through envelopes, looking for my name, must be something for me, about horses, stickers should be coming, or even the hot air balloon pattern I ordered from the back of one of my teen magazines. And then: Alphonse Dimino. Huh? Why. Why did they have to remind me, surprise me, his death surprising me a thousand times or more, years without end.

Surprise! Your dad is still dead!

Thank you. You shouldn't have. Really.

One day, a rare day of me mentioning "him," I said, Mom, why does he still get mail?

She said, Sometimes you get on a list--they don't know; they just send it.

The surprise of the unexpected, the I-should-know-better, like a lightning bolt to my heart.

And still, it's like that, every time you let me down.