There’s something therapeutic about writing.
Maybe it’s the act of pen-to-paper. Or maybe it’s the ability to ‘say’ things you can’t say—or don’t really know how to say. Here (as I’m typing, and not writing, although I think I might find more comfort if I did take pen to paper), it’s the latter.
My dad passed away last week.
It’s still a little surreal, to be honest. And it’s still utterly sad.
I’ve had mixed emotions. My close friends know that I haven’t had the best relationship with my dad the last few years. If you don’t know, he was an addict. And after giving 1000 chances, there came a point where I had to let it go, which meant cutting off communication for a while. Except for the pen to paper thing—letters were always easier. (And he didn’t know how to use email, anyway.) Despite knowing I was doing what was best for my sanity, I always felt really awful about out strained relationship, being that he was my dad. But equally so, because he had cancer. I think that made me feel even more guilty about it, because we knew that the day he would pass was going to come. In fact, we’d been prepared for it several times. At least two I can distinctly remember, but it feels like more than that. We never really knew what was going on with him these last few years, mostly because of his untrustworthiness (is that a word?) through his addictions. We never knew if he was doing poorly because of his ‘state of mind,’ or if it was because of his cancer.
I kinda thought that because of our strained relationship, and because we’d ‘been prepared’ for this day, it would be easier on me. That sounds terrible—that you can think you’re prepared for someone to die. Truth is, nothing is really clear when you’re blinded by frustration.
And I was frustrated.
And with his death, I was heart-broken.
Because, even through all the awful times, he was my dad.
I think my sister said it best—he was so lost these last few years. I never looked at it that way, because I was just mad. Mad he had acted the way he did. He had gotten himself into some trouble. It took a toll on all of his relationships. I brushed it all off as an addiction I didn’t understand. Honestly, I still don’t. But looking back on it now, I have a little different perception. Of course his addictions never helped any situation. But I don’t think he knew how else to cope with the finality of his condition. Maybe that’s giving him a little too much benefit of the doubt now. But I’m okay with that. Perhaps I’m just now giving him complete forgiveness. And that’s okay, too. I think he’d understand.
We all did the best we could to be supportive through these last few years. I think his life and attitude would have been completely different had he never been diagnosed with cancer. Seems like an obvious statement…but he emotionally couldn’t handle it. With his passing, I almost had to say goodbye to him a second time. The man that I knew as Dad wasn’t there the last few years.
In any case, dwelling on the not-so-good memories would be a disservice to him now. I’d rather remember him as the funny and loving man that he was, even through the rough patches.
He was hard-working. Seriously, he busted his ass at work, and he was damn good at his trade.
He was extremely generous.
He was quick-witted and funny.
He was a walking knowledge of the Green Bay Packers history. He actually requested that everyone wear Packer apparel to his funeral service. I am NOT kidding.
He seriously loved his whole family with his whole heart.
His funeral was an awesome tribute to the man that he really was. And my siblings and I got to say goodbye, cherishing the good times and memories that we’ll hold onto the rest of our lives.
10 days before he passed Kyle, Brooklyn, my siblings and I went to see him. I later found out he told everyone he saw how much it meant to him that he got to meet Brooklyn. It meant a lot to me for him to meet her, even if I was nervous about it. He was so excited. I knew in my heart that would be the last time we’d ever see him alive, and I now wish that I had spent a little more time with him.
I also wish that Brooklyn would be able to know the man that I grew up with. She will get a little piece of it, at least. When we went to visit, my dad gave her a bunch of books. Once I got home, I found out that he wrote funny little notes to her in the back of all of them. And that he bought books for my aunt to send to her on her first, second and third birthdays. I really hope those books have notes in them, too.
Even though I didn’t get to say all these things to him before he left this Earth, I know that he’ll be reading this right now if he can figure out how to use the Internet in Heaven. I think he knew it all anyway. At least, I really hope so.
Because no matter what, I’ll always love you, Dad.