So, my Dad died. I didn’t know if I’d write about this and I still may hit the delete button.
In the simplest of terms, my Dad died.
Every person, no matter how old, how strong, independent or disconnected, will always have some sense of being a child in the presence of their parent. This is the main relationship you have with this person. You may also be a friend, a colleague, and in some eyes an equal. But at some point you were this person’s child. Even if you hate them for not being a parent, it’s the hate and anger of a child to a parent.
My story is complicated and stupid but it is also, at least to me, tragic.
My Dad was 63 years old when he died unexpectedly. He lay non-responsive in a coma for a week, 600 miles away from me, when it was decided that they discontinue life support. He died the next day on a Sunday.
The Saturday that they disconnected his life support I had the first conversation with him in 6 years. I indulged in a very rare steak and opened two beers: one for me and one for him (Yuengling Light). The steak was huge. It was literally half of my dinner plate. I also had some deli potato salad. My Dad just had the beer and we talked. I didn’t want to talk about anything bad or anything in the past. I wanted easy and happy conversation.
My friend says Josh looks so much like you.
He’s so smart, Dad, he can spell all the days of the week!
Robin is so smart and funny. She’s beautiful but I don’t know what I’d do if she wasn’t funny.
Don’t make fun of me for feeding the dog steak.
I’m so glad I got that window repaired. I should have done it years ago.
I know, I can’t believe I haven’t taken the kids fishing yet.
It took 45 minutes to finish the beer and the steak. I left my Dad’s beer out for him. I told him it was time to go because I was sure his Mom was waiting for him. I was sure that my Agong and Apo were, too. I would have bet money that his cat Sydney was waiting for him along with Boris. They are surely getting along very well together. More importantly, I knew he needed a break, because wasn’t he always saying he needed to have a damn vacation? That he could go sit outside and drink a beer and fish all day and no one would bug him.
I said I love you. I’m sorry. I miss you. I forgive you.
I love you.
I miss you.
I forgive you.
I slept really hard that night. It was probably the entire cow I ate for dinner. I didn’t call the hospital on Sunday. I just couldn’t. I didn’t want to know anything. I tried to call on Monday and got no information. I called again on Tuesday and found out for sure. He died on a Sunday, around mid-morning.
My Dad died.
There’s no mourning. Everything is in secret. There have been no flowers or cards for me. It only makes sense that if I don’t exist, this never happened. Not a bang but a whimper, indeed.
Despite not talking to my Dad for so long, I know he loved me and I know for a fact that he knew I loved him. All of the bullshit centers around my mother but that is another story. I was explicitly told that I was not welcome at the hospital. I will boldly say that my Dad was an alcoholic, but his most endearing and biggest failing was that he loved his wife more than anything. More than himself. More than his children. It makes me sound cold and monstrous even to myself to say I would not have done it differently. If I thought I could have a relationship with my Dad without my mother, then I would have absolutely. But the hardest thing in my life, whether it’s a virtue or a failing in itself is that I put my children before my parents. Their safety and their emotional well being are my responsibility and it’s a responsibility that is seemingly thrown aside so easily nowadays. I absolutely know that I made the right decision even though it tore me apart every day. Everyone that heard about it chided me “they won’t be around forever, you know. You’ll regret it.” So easy for those words to drip out of your mouth when you don’t know the why behind the doing. No shit I regretted it. I regretted it every fucking day of my life and I’ll regret it every fucking day until I die and then some. But sometimes being strong means making the right decision even if it makes you want to die. Sometimes being strong is protecting your children when you really want to be selfish. Sometimes being strong is lying to your kids and saying you’re really sick so you can go into the bathroom and scream and cry silently while they watch a cartoon.
It wasn’t just the physical death of my Dad, but that last worn thread of hope that died. The hope that things would be different or better. It’s a relief in a way. Hope can be very painful. At least now, I know things are final.