My father died when I was 12 years old. I was a little girl and I spent most of my young life dealing with the emotions that come along with the loss of my father.
That was 15 years ago today.
I like to think I’ve grown up a bit from the apathetic pre-teen who had to put on a brave face at a funeral; so here are some of the thoughts I have on the meditations of grief and what it means to hold the specter of Death at arm’s length for most of your life.
- There’s no solid way to mention that you lack parents. Especially when it was just my father who had passed, I struggled with being able to articulate that I didn’t exactly do Father’s Day anymore or anything. I’ve gotten better about just being honest and even talk about it here.
- I do find that especially with my dad, the days do get easier. Time does heal some wounds. It was a long time ago, there have been many more memories made in the time between me having my father and not.
- But I do still hear a lot that I have several of my father’s mannerisms and traits. We apparently share the same wit, humor and sarcastic attitude. We both have larger than life personalities. We both can apparently light up a room. I think those parts of my father’s legacy I am most proud of. When I can effortlessly feel more connected to him because we aren’t so different.
- I feel a fair amount of guilt over the fact that my mom and dad are buried in different cemeteries on different sides of town. Mom is buried with her parents and her brother. Dad is buried in another city with his parents and his cousin. I regret they aren’t together and the fact that dad is so far away means I don’t get to visit him as often. That wears on me more than I like to admit sometimes.
- I’m always surprised by my friends and how supportive they can be. I can tell them anything. I can openly say I’m having a rough day today and without question, they’re willing to do whatever they can to help ease some of my angst. I’m so lucky to have that kind of support in my life.
- My family is very supportive as well but being my father’s daughter means a great deal of weight on me. They look to me as the effigy. As the legacy and sometimes, I just want to get off the altar and grieve, too.
- I am entirely enamored by pictures of my father. My aunts have found old photo albums recently and seeing my dad even before I was born warms my heart. On lucid days, I can still remember his voice and I’m always happy to see his face in a photo.
- I’m very aware of how much I look like my dad and the older I get I look like my mom. That’s a heavy burden in itself. When I was little I was always compared to my father’s mom (my grandma: Annette) who I never got to meet. So we’d visit my dad’s family out in country and all I heard as a little girl was how much I looked like Annette. That’s a heavy burden for a child and even now as a young woman, I still don’t know how to feel about bearing apparently such a strong resemblance to these people who are now practically deified due to death.
- I’m surprised that I still have so many of my dad’s old CDs and movies. That’s not really good or bad, but interesting.
- I’m very fascinated by the fact that as I get older I use “father” more than “dad” now. I guess I’m just dramatic or a bad Damien Wayne cosplayer-in-training.
- I’m also curious as someone who does social media professionally what rights the dead have to those who own their images. I wonder if my dad would be okay with me sharing his pictures. I wonder if my mom would be okay with it. They can’t tell me they don’t consent to having their images online but it vastly helps me and my family cope sometimes sharing images of them online.
- I’m always troubled when people use “death of the father” as an excuse to rationalize poor behavior in men but especially in women. I watch a lot of crime dramas and a number one “cause” of bad murdering women is apparently having no father. I dislike that argument because: well, what the hell does that mean for me? I’m not a terrible person (well, depends on who you ask). I work hard. I do my best and I happened to lose my father when I was young. So what does that mean for me and the other people I know who grew up without parents? Not to say that losing a parent does not PROFOUNDLY affect how a child grows up and learns how to love, trust and feel secure BUT I certainly hope my destiny isn’t headed towards of a path of a future Law and Order: SVU episode. I was raised admirably by my aunts and they did their best. I certainly hope I am destined for more.
- There’s a certain sardonic nature my friends and I have about me and my parents. When we go over character quizzes and such no one is ever surprised that I often get sorted as the angsty playboy with no parents. There’s a reason the last two posts like this one were labeled with names like Bruce Wayne and Tony Stark: two characters that I empathize and relate to quite a bit.
- As I get older and in theory start thinking about grandchildren, children and marriage: I’m worried about what narrative of my parents (especially my father) that I’ll tell. My dad died when I was a kid. He was one of the most important parts of my life BUT he was a human man who was in many ways very flawed. So which legacy do I capture? The flawed but compassionate family man who would do anything for his wife and daughter? Or this Christ-like redemptive father who peacefully faded from this Earth after deciding that disease was not the most dignified way to live on this imperfect world? I hope that I’ll tell the right story. It’s important to those around me and most important to me.
This one isn’t going to be very long and I may work on another one for my mom who faces another anniversary later on this year.
I love you, Dad. I love you now more that you’re not here and that I don’t have the luxury of calling you every day. I miss the person you were. The man you did your best to be and the person you wanted ME to be. I hope I’m doing okay in your eyes.
Rest well, Father.