by Lynn Mundell
Read her story Upon Receiving The California Department of Fish and Wildlife Angler Update here.
I took my father’s death very, very hard in late 2019. In some strange, magical thinking, I really did feel that he would never die, even as I saw him decline. Part of this was that with all of his overseas adventures and outdoorsy sports, Dad was larger than life. The other part of this was that he was so dependable and just necessary. Dad was always around to give advice, take me on one of favorite shared activities—fishing or to a Giants ballgame—and be the voice of reason in family dramas. It seemed completely unreal that he would just disappear.
I took a break from creative writing after Dad’s death, but perhaps unsurprisingly when I returned to it he was the only topic for a while. I almost felt like he haunted my attempts at writing. Celebrating him in words felt overwhelming, though. Around this time I received the regular email from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. As I read about when to get a fishing license and which waterways were at the moment full of fish, I remembered Dad with happiness instead of only pain at his loss. I realized I’d been gifted a title and a theme for writing about him. Even with parameters to work within, the piece was still very difficult to write. And I still struggled with accepting he was gone. I unsubscribed from the fish and wildlife email. I said I would never fish again. But last year my oldest son—who reminds me so much of Dad both in his steadiness and hunger to learn things—took up fishing with great enthusiasm. We’ve talked about going fishing together. Lately, I can see living better in A.D., After Dad, and instead of ending things I love with bitterness, honoring them with joy.
Lynn Mundell’s writing has appeared in Tin House, Five Points, The Masters Review, SmokeLong Quarterly, and elsewhere. Her fiction chapbook Let Our Bodies Be Returned to Us is available from the University of South Carolina. Lynn is co-founder of 100 Word Story and editor of Centaur, a literary journal dedicated to hybrid writing launching in spring 2023.