I don’t have a letter I need to write you this week. No weaseling, no considering “maybe a postcard, because I’m so busy.” I just don’t have to get that done. Yet here one is.
We haven’t been able to talk over the phone in years. With your dementia and your hearing problems it was an exercise in frustration. That’s why I started sending you a letter (or a postcard) every week instead.
Why is it, then, that I felt a pang of loss walking home that I would never call you up and ask your advice again? Or hear you tell me about the weather and whatever was going on in your life, then have you ask me if I was okay (“Fine Dad”) and then you’d hang up?
I really haven’t been mourning, at least not beyond having a hard time maintaining my focus. Yet right now, there it is, in the middle of my chest, and I don’t know what to do with it.
Aside to write about it. Right here.
Mom died when I was so much younger. Was I 28 years old then? It seems a lifetime ago. There was so much unresolved in my relationship with her. I struggled with her death for months and months, letting go of my unspoken dream of talking her around somehow, having her become a parent instead of an alcoholic. Almost every interaction she and I had over the course of years was fraught with angst, anger and anxiety. In the years before her death there weren’t many of those as I sought to protect myself. I wanted to make her better, and when she died, I had to let go of that dream. It was so, so hard.
With you, I resolved all that. Let it go, on the most part, realized that it was my choice of who I wanted to be with you in our relationship. And I was that, imperfectly, but altogether doing a pretty good job of it.
I think you got off easy compared to Mom. Your crimes were crimes of omission, unlike her active malice an dysfunction. It was easier for you to evade blame with that shrug of your shoulders and the “I didn’t know.” And apologies without action, far after the fact. It was your job to know. It was your responsibility to know. Although I forgive you; although I forgave you years ago, that burden rests on you nevertheless. It makes me sad, thinking about it.
I’m at peace with that. There is, there was no way for me to fix it. Maybe that’s what makes this easier than with Mom. Or maybe grief is waiting around the corner to come after me. I don’t know. I think there will be many corners for me to turn in these next months, and I will see as it happens.
I’m thinking about you, Dad.
I love you, Dad.
I miss you, Dad.