Today marks one year since my biological father passed suddenly. I’m not sure what to think or feel, let alone write here. But I wanted to acknowledge the uncertainty and make peace with it for today, so here I am, freewriting to help me process what’s going on inside.
We weren’t close when he died. We hadn’t talked in 11 or 12 years, and we had also spent 7 or 8 years before that without speaking. That means he missed more than half my life. Do I have regrets about that? Sure, I do. I’m human, afterall. I have a lot of questions about his life without me and my brother in it. I have to live with the fact that I’ll probably never know what he was like, except for a few tweets I saw and what is public on his Facebook page, and maybe a few questions I can ask of people who did know him at the end of his life (if I can ever bring myself to ask). We never had an adult relationship. He never met my son, and I don’t think he knew he was a grandfather. All I have are my childhood and adolescent memories, many of which aren’t good or comforting. Should I cling to the ones that make me smile, ignoring the painful ones? Is that doing myself a disservice, or is that being kind to myself? What will I share with Jax some day?
Those are some of the thoughts that run through my head today and occasionally at other times. I don’t know what to do with the questions, the emotions that range from sadness to anger to guilt, or any of it.
How do you forgive someone who is dead? I tell myself that he was mentally ill and also in physical pain, and my empathy for those who struggle helps alleviate some of my pain about our relationship. I tell myself that because he wasn’t in my life, I was able to be closer to my stepfather, who has been a strong, positive influence for 30 of my 35 years. I remind myself that life would have been very different for me, my brother, and my mom had she not divorced him when I was little. I think about what I know about his relationship with his third child, my half-brother, whom I first met at the funeral, and I take comfort in thinking that my dad learned from his mistakes with me and my brother and was a better father to his third child. I tell myself that I have learned from those mistakes, too, and that I am a better parent as a result.
I guess the best thing to do today is allow myself to grieve for the relationship I didn’t have with my dad after the age of 15. And breathe.