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Monday, November 24, 2014

Dear Dad

Opposite of my dad. He hated The Simpsons.
I loved him anyways!
As happens sometimes, thoughts of you keep me awake at night. It's 7AM now, and I've been trying, in vain, to sleep since 4AM. You've been gone just over six months, and I miss you. Sleep isn't something I normally have trouble with, but it's been an occasional challenge in 2014. This has been a year. I realized late in 2013 that you had very little time left. I was more concerned with my lover at the time, and I still cry about losing him more often than you. The crying is less frequent now, in November. Finally. It's not a constant feature in my emotional repertoire.

Lying in bed about ten minutes ago, I was outlining in my head what I would write to you. Why not say everything I wouldn't say when you were still alive? I could tell you that I'm angry more than I'm sad. That every thought of you is invaded by thoughts of Michelle. Do you know that your wife more than likely changed your will without your knowledge or consent? Do you know that she refused to let me come and stay with you before you died, with no reason given other than "there are lots of people coming in and out of the house"? Who fucking says that to the daughter of a dying man? What kind of spineless daughter just accepts it? She knew it would be impossible for me to drive the 30 minutes (without a car) to your village home every day if I was staying in the city, and she knew I couldn't afford the plane ticket for a short trip. Do you know she went full Catholic for your funeral, against your explicit wishes, and that only her family got to speak? Do you know that she placed a photo of BOTH of you next to your urn, as if it was a funeral for her marriage and not for you? Do you know that seemed happy behind her forced tears?

Do you know that my worries over material things like money and wills makes me feel angry with myself? Do you know that I am so angry with you for letting her - whom I've decided doesn't deserve (or, realistically, want) the title "stepmom" - push me out of your life? I mean, literally. She literally threw me out of the house, her house, that you and I had moved into when I was 16, after you married her, because I couldn't find a job. I'm so angry that you didn't realize, in the twenty years you were together, that she resented me, that she never wanted me around, and that after you married her, I ceased to be a real part of your life. It was all about the two of you. You, the older sweet man who fucked up his second (though, as far as she knows, first) marriage, and the sweet, naive-acting young wife who Never Wanted Children, and your lives together. Bike trips together. Dinners together. Plans together. Without me. Always without me. There was no room for a messed-up teenager who really just needed to be accepted and welcomed and loved. After mom sent me to live with you, and you married Michelle, I lost any semblance of home. I was on my own. I wasn't ready. I understand why you did it, without even realizing, but I'm still heartbroken that you chose her over me. Anyone who truly loved you, would have never required such a choice. And I'm angry that you never noticed, and let her manipulate and control you. It's an act, Dad. Her sweet, childlike innocence, is all a carefully crafted act, and she controlled you with it. Tears like a vise. If you saw it, you ignored it.

Feeling angry towards you was something I never expected to feel after you died. My whole life's narrative was something akin to "I was actually happy when my parents divorced", and I think I was. It was obviously not a happy marriage. You were angry, and mean, and cold, and at 8 years old, I was happy to get away from you and your constant frowning on all of my flaws - physical, academic, and otherwise. I now wonder how much of that was a result of you not being happy in your life. Of not wanting kids when Mom told you I was coming? She was careful to tell me that my birth overjoyed you, but I know it wasn't your plan at that moment. And while I dearly love my stepdad, and my niece, whose presence in my life would vanish if you and Mom had stayed together, I find myself wondering how my life would have been different if you hadn't acted like a giant asshole and cheated on Mom? If you'd just treated her with love and respect, and had a reasonably happy life together, would I have been able to choose to have you more present in my life? Would we have lived in the same house, that you both so lovingly renovated, for numerous years, in the same town, with the same kids around me, my friends, as so many people get to do, rather than being uprooted literally every year to some new place Mom could afford? Would Mom not worrying about child support, and paying the rent, and finding comfort with other men, have made her hound me less about my food intake? Would you both have been happier, more available, more loving? Would her not marrying my stepdad mean that she wouldn't have to get drunk every night (a tradition that lives to this day)? Would Mom and I have been able to mourn your death together, and share any properties and savings you'd accrued during your lifetime? Would the privilege of ownership, of homes, and property, mean that I would have been cared for just a bit longer, rather than being thrown from both nests for different reasons? Would I have felt like a daughter, rather than a burden? Would I not be so poor now, if I hadn't been forced into a useless college program (and it's accompanying student loan debt) I didn't really want to go to in the first place? I had no job, and Michelle was clear "I can't accept you here anymore". I had no other choice.

I know it happened the way it did, and that the experiences have shaped who I am. But damn it, I'm angry that you married too young, when you just wanted to fuck other women, and then after fucking that up married a woman who still resents me and your love for me, who got every. Single. Possession you have (either due to her malice, your indifference, or both), and who got to enjoy more years living with you than I did.

I'm not only angry, though. I'm also sorry. Sorry for all of those times you wanted to be with me, right after mom had married Geoff, after that horrible year spent living with you in that horrible city when Mom was too poor to keep me, and I just couldn't be bothered. I was hurt. I was traumatized, and had been abandoned in a place where I was miserable, where I was abused and harassed by peers all day, every day. You reminded me of that almost-entirely horrible time. If I had known that you'd be re-marrying a few years later, and would vanish into your new life, I would have been there for every dinner, watched every boring show, gone on every exhausting bike ride (I love biking now!), gone to every cheesy clogging class, listened to every record you played, and read every book you placed in front of me (Michelle is withholding your records and books, too, which is the one thing of yours she KNOWS you wanted me to have - please Dad, haunt this greedy, selfish bitch, I implore you). I'm sorry for not caring during those years. I'm sorry for not saying this outside of a moment of anger one time in college. I'm sorry for not spending every moment I could with you, for making you feel like I didn't care, for being afraid of you sometimes, for not realizing how much you loved me while you were still available. I'm sorry for avoiding you for the last few years of your life because your racist ideas clashed with my activist tendencies - I'd give anything to angrily explain to your disagreeing ears one more time why mosques shouldn't be bombed, why Stephen Harper is an asshole, and why Oprah isn't racist against white kids in South Africa.

I know you loved me. I know you married Michelle because you wanted to be happy, to be loved, when Mom was long gone, and I was so far away. I know you didn't mean to leave me behind, or decimate my self-esteem, or possibly almost-molest me that one time when you were drunk (yes, I remember that, though I doubt you do). I know you did the best you could, and grew up in a less permissive era, where men don't date fat women (and tell their young daughters that), show their emotions, or choose bachelorhood for a little while longer. I know that you learned from your father (an abusive cheater), and your mother (an abusive controller), and tried to be a great Dad despite that.

And mostly, you were. I'm sorry I didn't tell you that more often. I'm sorry I didn't realize it sooner. I'm sorry I didn't achieve more in your lifetime. I'm sorry that you died worrying about me, and the state of my life. I'm sorry I didn't push my way into that house in the end, despite what Michelle said. You are my Dad. I should have been there. I will certainly die regretting being so weak in that moment.

I miss you Dad. I love you. I wish I felt your presence around me. I don't. I thought I would, but I never do while awake.

Please feel free to haunt my dreams more often.

Your Darling Dotter

November 24, 2014

1 comment:

  1. Oh honey *hugs* I lost my dad too, and even ten and a half years later it still hasn't stopped hurting. Fatherless fat girls have it rough, you know? The best advice I can give, from experience, is to never stop loving life and to live each day as if you expect to die tomorrow.