So, it’s been a year since my dad died and I wrote my own sharp edged memorial to him.
I can’t say I’ve done a whole lot of work in resolving anything with him. It’s been a little quiet from his side, and I’ve been fairly busy myself since my beautiful wife (who was ill even before we knew why) was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. Sorry dad…it’s been a tough year.
I have noticed a few things now that we’ve passed the one year anniversary of his death. I’m not as angry at him as I was before. But that has nothing to do with any deep philosophical shift I’ve had about our father-son relationship. It has much more to do with the fact that my wife, who I love more than anyone, is…damn. I still can’t say it. She’s sick.
Any resentment I felt toward my father is still there, I’m sure. It’s just now buried between thick layers of pain, grief and fear concerning my Gretel. Again, sorry dad. It’s been a bad year.
I don’t know if I’ll ever get back around to dealing with dad. I could deal with his family (the second one), but I guess I’m still too raw to think about that. Too much pain and dysfunction has passed between us for me to plaster a smile on my face, nod, and tell them how much I’ve missed them. It was hard enough doing it while dad was alive.
And honestly, I don’t care enough for them (or anyone else for that matter) to let it distract me from the moments I have with my wife. I don’t care. It’s easy to say, and in this instance I don’t even know if it’s true or not. I’ve been left uncharacteristically fragile, numb, and afraid by Gretel’s predicament. I usually tackle everything head on–frontal assault. I often joke in my books about the military teams being hammers and how everything looks like a nail to a hammer. It’s true. Subtly is not my forte.
But I have realized something subtle over the past year concerning my relationship with my father; My feelings toward him were petty. I’m not saying they weren’t founded, or even that they were unjustified…I justified them every time I thought of him. All I’m saying is that had I let go of my resentment (whether or not it resulted in a close relationship), I wouldn’t have been quite so miserable. My dad was never going to change, and while he was alive that fact was a constant taunt to me. Just another failed idea in my head that would have been dismissed as ridiculous by him. And that’s fine. It’s still on me. He let go, easy or hard, he did it. I should have too.
But after the last week of April, 2016, none of it mattered anymore. My dad didn’t matter. The rest of my family didn’t matter. My health, comfort, and work didn’t matter. All that mattered was that my beautiful Gretel had been struck with something horrible–something that would eventually….I still can’t say it. She’s sick.
As I reread my blog from a year ago, the one I wrote on the day he was buried, I’m not quite as torn up about it as I was then. Our differences and unresolved issues don’t seem nearly as life altering. And that’s a shame. It’s a shame because it means that personal crisis has put our problems in perspective a bit. There’s still regret, still doubt, and anger, but it’s not life shaping anymore. It’s a gray cloud that blocks the sunlight for a few moments then drifts by—-a pause in my day rather than anything that might shape it. No…the life altering event is yet to come. And with things in perspective, the unthinkable will be the end of the sun. My beautiful Gretel is…she’s sick.
When that happens, I may never think of my father again. Perspective; sometimes it’s not as friendly as billed.