I write to you often. Does earthly mail even translate into the afterlife, I wonder. The distance between us, I find, only leaves me with more questions. Perhaps this is the byproduct of objectivity.
It’s been twelve years, Dad, and so many things have changed, and yet, still the after shocks of your presence continue. You were such an enigma. None of us really had the resources we needed to make our lives work. Pardon my language, but our family really was a shit show. I am curious to know how you view it all now, or if you even have clear insight from your vantage point.
Here are the things I’ve had to overcome since your passing:
- the echo of your voice ridiculing me for laziness. Now that I have ME/CFS and the majority of my time is spent in bed, I still hear you accusing me of being “a horizontal champion”. Your intolerance of weakness slices through my attempts to accept the reality of this debilitating disease.
- your tyrannical approach to relationships still leaves me doubting my ability to be loved. The insecurity and fear spills over into my marriage, clouding my perception of my husband’s behaviour. In vulnerable moments I cannot discern between his well-meaning reactions and you lashing out.
- the tirades, and machine gun criticism have left a wake of anxiety that despite my attempts to be rational, still shake me.
- the realization of the depth of your pain, and my unwillingness to even try to understand beyond my own self-protection has left a crater in my heart and soul.
Love is complicated, and even in the midst of chaos and anarchy, it attempts to maintain a hold. Your role, as my father, was also defined by elements of respect and admiration. Here are the things you left me with that keep me strong, Dad:
- tenacity. Even in light of all that you had to contend with, you never gave up. You modelled persistence and determination.
- courage. I may not have appreciated it while you were alive, but in retrospect, you were one hell of a courageous soul, Dad.
- intelligence. You taught me that knowledge alone is not enough, that real wisdom comes from the integration of learned experience and the ability to reason.
- introspection. At times, when you were willing to let down the wall, you showed me the value of introspection, especially when it came to taking responsibility for negative behaviours.
- the gift of words. You were a talented writer, teacher, and motivational speaker, and continue to inspire all that I do.
Hindsight is full of alternative realities, however; we cannot change what we lived. It is what it is.
Today, as I pause to remember the man who shaped so much of my life, the sorrow still lingers. If our lives had not been such a train wreck, we might have known a different outcome. Instead, I am left with these wounds and regrets, and you are reduced are to tainted memories.
I pray that from your perspective, peace is achievable.
(I have no image of my father to post, but when I googled his name the featured image appeared from www.commandoveterans.org. My father was a commando during WWII, although I cannot verify that he is part of the pictured squadron.)