Last Thursday, I told my therapist about how I kept seeing my father in random strangers.
It turned into talking about all of the things I wanted in a father, but never got. My therapist mentioned something about my wish for a real father, and I told her that my wishes never mattered, because wishes don’t come true. In that moment, I thought about all of the wishes I made that never came true: my wish to be dead, my childhood wish for someone to help me, my wish for decent parents, my wish for the pain to stop, my wishes for my parents to die. All wishes left ungranted.
Just 24 hours after that therapy session, I received word that my father was in the hospital, on life support, dying. My immediate reaction was guilt. All of those times I wished for his death, now he’s going to die. This was all my fault. I shouldn’t have wished for him to die. I shouldn’t have complained that my wishes never come true.
I didn’t know how to feel. Sadness, anger, relief, guilt, fear…they were all running through my head.
My father had been sick for nearly a decade, but he seemed to go on forever. But this was it. His heart stopped and he wasn’t coming back from it. He passed away Monday night, July 4th, 2016.
When I found out he had passed away, I didn’t even cry. I just…went on with life. I went to sleep, woke up and went to work. I had moments of inner confusion, but I wasn’t heartbroken. I wasn’t distraught. I was okay.
Perhaps I prepared myself for his death in the days before. I went to therapy Monday morning knowing that my father would be gone in the next few days. But in talking about it in session, I didn’t even cry then. I cried more on Father’s Day than I did on the day he died.
That’s because I already lost my father, well before he died. I have been grieving his loss for awhile now. I grieved it when I ran away. I grieved it when I wrote him that card just a few weeks ago.
I can’t help but wonder about the timing of all of this. I have been muddling through so many emotions and such concerning my father, especially during the last month. My view of my father has changed considerably. I used to view him as a fellow victim of my mother, but I learned that he made his own choices, and those choices included hurting his children. My mother didn’t force him to do that. She didn’t force him to help her destroy me. He had the option to be a good parent and he chose not to.
If I hadn’t realized who my father really was in these last several weeks, I would be grieving a fantasy right now. I would be grieving a person that never existed. I would be grieving the person I hoped my father was.
At first, I was angry at myself. I didn’t have a chance to confront my father. I never got any closure. In reality, I know I would have never confronted him anyway. But at least while he was alive, it was always a possibility I could hold on to. Now I’ve lost that. That is what I grieve the most.