I’ve been putting this off for a while but I think it’s time to get personal. Right now you’re totally rocking an exaggerated Tina Fey eye roll (a rather impressive one I might say) in anticipation of a sob story, but I promise this will be painless.
About 90 days again is when my fiancé, (NO I don’t have a ring yet and stop bugging me about it), Matti’s dad died. I had never known loss in such an emotional, epic capacity before his passing. Even as I write this now I can see his face, can see him sitting in his fold-out chair on the porch smoking a stogie, being brilliant.
It has taken me a while to begin to write about him because of fear that I won’t do him justice. That I cannot write elegantly enough to portray the work of art that was his life (as if this would be possible for anyone to do). But I know now that this is just one of many posts that will have his words, his legacy, his personality, his humor, and everything else he left with us.
I wish I could say that when we found out he died I had that moment, you know, when you say to yourself, “This is it.” When you stop being a lazy college grad and get to doing all that stuff that you set out to do six years ago when you were barely an adult and definitely not the person you are today. Unfortunately, that all-encompassing moment never came. Instead, it happened in slow strides over time, very slow, indeed. It came in moments where I thought: How is this possible? How do I get to where I’m going? Can I get there faster? And, are there going to be any toll roads?
And Rick would tell me to just sit down and start writing for fuck’s sake.
Let me tell you a little of what I know of Rick. Rick Hautala was a writer, a bestselling author, a horror writing, stogie smoking, liberal, but more than anything he was an amazing father. I know this because I have a father myself. When I met this man over four years ago he got on me for not writing when Matti and I stayed with him over winter break. At that point, he already cared.
“You’re young! I’ve already written 20 pages today!” He said, sitting in his “cone of silence”–his space on the couch with a tiny light above him that literally made a cone of light–he often looked like he’d be beamed up by some literary god as thousands of books lined the living room walls. I like to think of that happening now.
Rick was everything. He was hilarious. He was seriously smart. He was a smart ass.
One of the best memories I have of him is sitting on the couch watching George Carlin’s “Seven Dirty Words You Can’t Say on Television” and thinking to myself, well he’s saying them on T.V now isn’t he? I’m annoying like that. But Rick just laughed because that’s what he did and it was infectious and impossible to ignore. And also how jealous are you that I could see with my future father-in-law and watch that special without it being awkward? Yeah, that’s how cool being around Rick was.
Rick was prolific. The amount of books he wrote and published still astounds me. But it wasn’t about being rich and famous (though he definitely wouldn’t have minded the rich part and at one point, he definitely made it big). Writing was his passion. Not giving up on this blog is for Rick. I started it because I knew I had to build a platform for my writing but I put my heart into it, let my honest voice come through and put myself out there because of Rick. I was always so intimidated to let him read my writing because I was afraid he wouldn’t think I was good enough. I could and someday will punch myself in the face for that.
Matti and I were sitting on the couch the other day and he turned to me like he does in those hard moments when it all comes flooding back, when it’s impossible to imagine Rick not living in this world.
He said, “I wish he could see your blog and all the writing you’ve been doing,” and we both teared up because the hardest part is the journey ahead. I wish I could thank him now.
After every trip with Matti to see Rick, walking towards the door to leave, I’d turn around to say, “Thanks for having me,”
As if on auto pilot, the most comforting exchange I’d ever known from a father figure, Rick would say, “Thanks for being had,” assuring me I was loved and appreciated and that humor was such a gift to be thankful for. And also to say, being a smart ass was funny and absolutely expected.
So I’m going to keep my humor and use it. I want him to continue to live on in my posts. It feels like one way I can honor him and finally take the advice he used to give me. (And also if I keep writing about him now I’m going to do some serious water damage to my keyboard and that shit was just replaced.)
Rick’s work still lives on, click here to see what is coming out and also to see how much of a badass he was. Man he is so missed.