It’s been 4 1/2 years since you passed away, dad, and I still can’t watch a TV show that depicts someone being brain-dead and on a ventilator without instantly thinking of you. It takes me back to the day you died, to the day we had the ventilator pulled, to the day I lost you forever. Flashbacks. It’s like tunnel vision in my head – the memory confined in a dark tube, flowing rapidly through my mind.
I have realized that my brain has treated your death as it did with my childhood abuse – it has somewhat disassociated it. I see you lying there, tubes breathing for you, your body still so warm to the touch. And then I see me beside you, holding your hand, tears falling down my cheeks. I see me standing there in shock, so many thoughts running through my head yet my mind is empty at the same time. I see me desperately wanting to lay next you, to hold you, but holding back, not wanting to be embarrassed or told I couldn’t.
I remember the pain of that day. I remember it should have been all about you but my sisters had to ruin it and take attention away from you and put it on themselves and I’m sorry that happened, dad. My memories of that day are shaky but I remember shutting down; I remember knowing I couldn’t let myself feel that loss. It was too great. I remember swallowing the pain as its sharp blades scraped my throat on the way down.
It was a miracle that you and I had the close relationship that we did. You molested me but I forgave you for that a long time ago. I know that you were abused horrifically as a child. When I learned of the details of your abuse from others, my heart wept. I can’t even imagine the things you went through. I also can’t imagine how you went through all of that just to then hurt me. I can’t understand it but I can see that your wind was taken and warped by others. You stopped abusing and completely turned yourself and your life around. You eventually turned into the father I deserved. That’s all I could ever ask for.
Your death made my heart bleed and it still bleeds to this day. The timing – more than unfortunate. At that time, you were the one person it would hurt me most to lose and yet it was you I lost. God – even now I am choking it down. I hate that there was bad feelings between us at the time. You couldn’t stand up for me with the family and I couldn’t let that go. I was so angry with you – you knew the truth but wouldn’t stand up with it. But I am not angry anymore. I understand that you couldn’t, that you had your own issues. I can’t hold that against you anymore than how I react or don’t react with my own issues. I’m sorry if my distance hurt you. I’m sorry the least time we spoke, by phone, that I felt so betrayed. I’m sorry that I didn’t come to see you when you had your routine surgery – I was hurt and angry and thought everything was going to be just fine. I had know way of knowing I would never get to speak to you again. I’m so sorry for that, so very sorry. Even though I was hurt, that made me a bad daughter. I can’t ever take that decision back and I will never forgive myself for it.
Today I exist with you always in my mind. I have gotten over the anger and hurt of you leaving me behind and now just feel love and loss. I see you whenever I see a butterfly. I see you whenever I see a lake or someone fishing. I see you when I see yummy BBQ food. And sometimes I even see you in the clouds. I feel a sadness in those moments but I also have to smile, knowing you are with me and seeing in my mind how much you loved those things, how much you loved me.
It’s amazing how sometimes, most of the time, it doesn’t feel like you are gone at all, that you are still back home, living your life, day to day. But then those moments come… I miss you, dad…. I miss you so much….