Where Are You?

Chuck Mallory
Feb 13 · 3 min read

A Father’s Cry in the Night

Often I go into the backyard at night, and look at the moon and stars through the trees. I have moved to the Appalachian Mountains, where it’s quiet and my soul can sit still. Where my soul can observe. Where it can ask the bigger questions.

I always ask, “Where are you?” I am thinking of my son Max. I realize, with sadness, that I will never really know on this side of life. He left too soon. The universe took a good person. Most important, he was kind. His heart was needed in this growing-harsh world.

An example was one time he built two little remote-control cars from a Lego kit he bought. He was already sick with cancer then. He started them up. They rolled around the floor in a clever way, but my little dog jumped and ran away in fright.

“Oh, that scared him,” Max said, sad. “I’m putting these away.” I told him he didn’t have to. My nervous little dog was scared of many things; this was just another everyday occurrence. “It’s okay,” I replied, “he’ll stay away. You can keep running them.” But he was adamant: “No, I won’t operate these again around him. It scared him.”

That was his heart, his gentle soul. My well-fed dog, acting his usual nature, was fine. But Max, sick from chemo, didn’t want to hurt anyone — even with a little bit of fright.

So, where are you, Max? I’ve had such distinct, indisputable signs, that I know he is just beyond the veil, at a place we all seem to “remember” in an ephemeral way. One we cannot open up, on this side. We must wait.

I am earthbound. I know the chain of life. But I want him back for just a day. I want to spend that day walking and talking with him, where I live now, asking about life on the other side, and then hug him, and tell him in person that I love him.

I want to talk about the fun times of our lives, and relive the happy memories we have together. I could ask him if he thought I did enough to help him (I’m sure he’d say yes). I want the reassurance. And I crave to hear his laugh.

I tell myself he knew I loved him and that I still do. I tell myself he now knows I think of him every day. What I imagine is that he looks down from that vast place with a slight, wistful sorrow, knowing I am still a human and cannot really see the full spectrum.

I am still human. And so I must look at the sky, the stars, the luscious moon, and ask, “Where are you?”

He is far beyond the measurable stars, the glow of the Milky Way, the endless depth of the night sky.

But still I ask.

Chuck Mallory

Written by

Chicago author. Former writer for men's fitness mags. Father of two sons, one of them on each side of life.