There’s a thing about having your Dad die when you are just barely 22.
The eye roll. The condescending tone. Thinking you know it all. The unapologetic lack of any sort of humility.
Losing a parent young, for me, was like a tidal wave pummeling me. Caught in the wrath of its turbulent wake. Worse. My wake.
It’s like…he will never know what I might become. Or see me…once I grow out of this stage of being a total know-it-all, A-hole.
At least that’s how I felt the years after my Dad lost his year-and-a-half battle with cancer, months before his 51st birthday.
I spent that time after his death seeking things I thought could fill the void; replace the space; patch the holes that were left in the crevices of my shattered heart.
Wondering? Would I ever feel un-wrecked?
Often, trying to prove that, I was, indeed, worthy. Seen. By men, women. Everyone. And anyone.
A road that took me down a sometimes reckless path. Rather than chasing right, opting, instead, for things that inflicted pain. Inwards and outwards… I became a masochist, of sorts.
Not knowing who I was becoming and often feeling like I wished I could…
take. it. all. back.
I sat by my Dad’s side, in an oversized arm-chair, in his dimly lit hospital room.
I believed he would leave that place. Return home. And there would be more time to show him~I wasn’t actually a self-centered brat.
Unbeknownst to me, in my shallow, naive thinking, that would be his dying bed. In a way, I suppose, I thought I could hope this outcome away.
He insisted, after all, that I go on that trip, which had been previously scheduled.
I knew~deep in my heart~I should stay. Yet, I went.
My Mom’s words came through the land line in the early morning hours of that September day, “Honey, Dad Died.” Words that have continued to punctuate that selfish season.
And, I spent years thinking my Dad knew it, too.
After all, my family was there… When he took his final breath.
I. was. not.
Just one of my many choices that led me to inflict revenge on myself: physically, spiritually, on the inside, and out.
I needed to be punished; attempting to erase.it.all.
At times, I was literally brought to my knees, begging for an escape from the prison I had placed myself in. The guilt, palpable.
Those lines. I continued to blur.
I didn’t know anymore. Who the hell was the REAL me? I figured, if I just let all the bad shit out, maybe I could find my real self buried beneath the mountain of pain.
Perhaps then~I could become the me I was supposed to be~ if only my dad hadn’t died.
My siblings, who I had always been lovingly close with, handled it in their own way. Both equally broken. But, on separate paths of grieving; turning to their own self-inflicting vices in order to survive.
My Mom’s heart took the brunt of the destruction. Hers had been shattered into an unimaginable zillion pieces; left unable to be put back together. It was excruciating. And wickedly unfair.
We all yearned to take her pain away. But. That would have taken a lifetime to undue. He was her one and only.
And still… even if we had a million years-that wouldn’t have been enough time to repair the havoc that had swept through her world.
Despite it all, perhaps my Dad had been able to actually see me evolve. Perhaps he didn’t need to live to be an old man to do so.
As my Father, maybe he had seen deeper inside me; even beyond the depths I was capable of seeing or imagining in my own flawed, imperfect, 22-year-old self.
Through the eye rolls; the naivety; the liberal bull shit. He still loved me.
Then and now.
All of me.