It started this past weekend. The fits of crying for stupid reasons, eating stupid food, feeling like I wanted to simultaneously throw and hug things. I knew, but I pretended it wasn’t happening.
Today is my father’s three year deathiversary. I’m not sure if that is a socially acceptable way of saying “anniversary of his death” but Amy used it once or twice and I loved it, so if you don’t like it, you can use whatever word you want when talking about the anniversary of your own father’s death.
I’ve been experiencing the same emotional roller-coaster for the past three years, ever since the day he died. I wrote about it that day and thought it would help. Obviously it didn’t, since the next year I commented how I sat and cried the whole day and hadn’t come to terms with it. I didn’t even touch on it last year online, but the day was pretty much the same as the year before.
I don’t think it is so much that I haven’t come to terms with it, I just think that I haven’t properly dealt with my anger, which makes me feel guilty, because, he’s dead, you know? But I’m ANGRY. I’m super angry about things that he did, I’m ANGRY with the things that were said and I’m ANGRY because my sister and I are left with the pieces that we don’t know how to put together, and it is still affecting us. It’s kind of time to let the anger go.
I’m going to forewarn anyone who may know me in real life: this may be hard for you to read. This may make you angry at me, or horrified that I’m even sharing this. Especially online. But this is my space. This is my time and frankly, he was my father. I am a writer, and writing helps me heal.
That said, I do beg of you, if you have any decency in this world, please do not report back what I write to my grandmother. She is a good woman, and loved her son, for all his faults. While there are a million and one things she may could have done differently, she is still grieving for her boy. Please respect that these are things that I would definitely tell people, and even HIM were he alive, but my grandma doesn’t deserve this venom.
I wrote this a while ago, and never published it. I think it is time.
You lived so close, but were so far away.
I can count on one hand the good memories I have of you. You explained Grandma’s love for the salty ham one Christmas. The look on your face when you spilled iced tea on her carpet made me laugh. Once when I came home on Christmas break, you patted my knee and said “You’re a good girl.”
Mama told me you were good when I was a baby. You got up every morning to give me my bottle before work.
I don’t remember that.
You left me alone, at not quite 4 years old, with my newborn sister, to go get a drink at the Pond. I still see you, out of that raggedy trailer window, your truck almost flying down the dusty dirt road. I was scared you were never coming back. You did, begging me not to tell mama you had left.
“Sure, we have pots at the house! Mama keeps flowers in them!” I responded when you asked me if mama smoked pot. But deep down, even at six years old, I knew that wasn’t the question you were asking, seeing the look on Grandma’s face, as she uttered the words I had grown accustomed to: “Now, Kent, hush, don’t say such things.”
It was a small town. I heard it all. I was YOUR daughter. I couldn’t hide it. No matter how good I was, I was always your daughter.
You came to one of my middle school assemblies, this ridiculous black beret on your head. I saw you, felt my stomach drop, but I went to you. You just needed my signature, but “the woman won’t believe it is yours unless you are with me.” I refused to leave with you. You were so angry. Manic or high, I now know. You called me selfish, spoiled. Spoiled, in my hand-me-down clothes and cheap knock-off shoes, while you snorted away every last savings bond mama had so carefully bought me, and in the rush to leave you, forgotten.
You almost broke my arm once, when I was fifteen. You wanted confirmation that I was coming back to visit, I tried to give it to you, but you wouldn’t stop pushing my arm back. Everyone watched, frozen, until I started crying. You looked like a dog that had been caught in the trash. After that I only came around on holidays.
Mama never uttered a bad word about you, even when I asked her the hard questions. The ones I knew the answer to, but the words she could never admit. There were the unspeakable things. But those stories are not mine to tell.
When they could no longer say that you were “just a character”, when the excuses didn’t work, and they could no longer ignore the truth of your mind, I softened, tried to forgive you. I tried to enter your world. But you never seemed to be ready to take blame. It was always someone else’s fault. After ten years of listening to your ranting, I couldn’t listen anymore. Not until after the baby was born. Enough was enough.
I ignored your calls. Twice
Then you died.
Three years later, I’m not sure where I stand. I think of all the people who let ME down, didn’t protect me from you. I think of my questioning of God when GOOD fathers would die: “Why did you do that? I have a perfectly no-good one who has done nothing. Take him!”
I’m trying to forgive you. I’m trying to forgive them.
But most of all, I’m trying to forgive myself.
I don’t think it matters who you were or who you weren’t, what you did or what you didn’t do, what matters is that I am who I am in part because of you, and for that I am thankful. While it wasn’t easy being your daughter, I don’t think I could change any part of my life without changing where I am now, and that is something I am not willing to do. While you were not a “daddy” you were my father, and I do love you for that. I hope you have found your peace, I’m finding mine.