When my father died, I was not there. I was a continent away when the call came. I cancelled my class that night, not willing for the welling eyes of my students to unstop some hidden spring of tears deep within the man I thought I was. In an instant I was four, my face pressed up against his overcoat, the collar faintly smelling of cigarettes and travel and the clean bite of snow in his hair. He would fly down from the gray sky, to be with his parents and me for a day, clattering across the lowered drawbridge of my heart, past the flickering lamps of dim memory, and into the courtyard of the present. He was the closest god that I could know. Gods become less real the more they are not present. Their absence as a being shape-shifts by fate and circumstance. We name it, shuffle memories, love it more than less, understanding without knowing.