Sometimes I Forget

I’m fortunate enough to have both my parents still living (though I worry about my dad). Even so, there’s a song (by Loudon Wainwright III, natch) that brings me to tears every time every time I hear it. (Much less sing it, as I sometimes do.)

He wrote it about his dad. He and his dad, Loudon Wainwright II—never name your kids after yourself—had a tumultuous, competitive relationship, and he actually wrote a lot of songs about his father, some of them quite angry.
But this one he wrote after his father had died. They had reached a sort of accord, developed a relationship, and then he was gone. A friend of mine was talking about her father’s favorite place to eat and tearing up, and it brought this song to mind.

Sometimes I forget
That you are gone

You’re gone and you’re not coming back
It’s hard to believe
You’re still not here
What’s left behind disputes that fact
Your closet’s still full of your clothes and your shoes
And your bookcase still holds all your books
It’s as if all you’d done was to go out of town
You’ll be back soon, that’s just how it looks
But your suitcase is empty
It’s right here in the hall
And that’s not even the strangest thing
Why would you leave your wallet behind?
Your glasses, your wristwatch and ring
Your glasses, your wristwatch and ring
Sometimes I forget
That you are gone
And that we’ll never see you again
I think for a moment
“I’ve got to give him a call.”
But I can’t now, I realize then
No, we can’t meet for lunch at the usual place
The place that where we always would go
And there was something I wanted to tell you so bad
Something I knew that you’d want to know
Oh, I could go by myself
To our old haunt
But that seems such a strange thing to do
The waiters would wonder what was going on
Why weren’t you there, where were you?
Why weren’t you there, where were you?
Sometimes I forget
That you are gone
I remember and I feel the ache
How could it happen?
How could it be?
It’s not true, there must be some mistake
Mementos and memories, tell me what good are they?
No, they’re not much to have and to hold
And it’s true that you’re gone and you’re not coming back
And this world seems so empty and cold
But sometimes something happens
And it doesn’t seem strange
You’re not far away, you’re near
Sometimes I forget
That you are gone
Sometimes it feels like you’re right here
Right now it feels like you’re right here

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