I have sat down so many times over the last month to write about my father. I have hundreds of thoughts on the subject of his passing swirling around my brain but the words seem to escape me. In some ways it seems surreal that he is gone. After all he was only 47. It was so quick. One day he was being diagnosed with stage four lung cancer and told he had three months to live. Elven days later he was dead. I am left in limbo.
There is no relationship to grieve. We weren’t close. Until, my father became sick I hadn’t spoken to him in a year. I hadn’t seen him in almost five. Long before I kicked my mother out of my house my father had essentially exited my life. In the seven years since Mark and I married I saw my father a grand total of six times. That includes the visit to see him after he was diagnosed with cancer. In those seven years we only talked on rare occasions- holidays and birthdays for the most part. Never longer than five minutes. It wasn’t always like that. Growing up all the way into my teen years my father and I had a very close relationship. We could talk for hours. When his best friend Steve died I was the one; who sat with him for hours as he cried and reminisced. We mourned Steve’s loss together. I admired my father and respected his opinion. We didn’t quarrel and didn’t have a rocky relationship.
My father suffered from tremendous guilt concerning Steve and his inability to save Steve’s widow from her self. After Steve died my beloved father was replaced by an addict. The addictions were many- drugs, alcohol and gambling. He was trying to balance being a functional member of society with nasty addictions. Addictions that cost a lot of money. There wasn’t enough to go around. Money became a constant source of stress. He was desperately trying to balance a house of cards. The stress, guilt and addictions ate him alive. Pretty soon my beloved father was nowhere to be seen. All that was left was a shell that looked like him but the part that counted was gone. The man that was left behind wasn’t the same man that had loved me my entire life.
By the time I met Mark my father’s and mine’s relationship had already started to fray. Marrying against his wishes caused everything to unravel. Despite the fact that my father had no objections to my husband (he was fine with us living together and playing house as he put it.) and I was happy he couldn’t forgive me for getting married. He believed I threw away my life. He was angry that I didn’t give in to his bullying and ultimatums on the subject. We ended up on opposite sides of a line drawn in the sand and there was no middle ground on the subject. The drugs and booze had changed him. The addict couldn’t forgive me or see that I was happy. He couldn’t be happy for me. He couldn’t love the married me. There could be no relationship between us because he despised what my life had become.
When I went home to see him right before he passed he told me he forgave me for getting married. He told me that when you are dying there just isn’t any room for hate anymore. He told me he could see that I had needed to escape and Mark gave me that. He told me he loved me and hadn’t stopped. During the visit I caught glimpses of pre- addiction him. I am glad I went to see him. I am glad I was able to tell him that I loved him and that I didn’t hate him. I am glad that I was able to tell him that I never stopped caring.
However, his forgiveness doesn’t sit well with me. It makes me angry. I did nothing that needed forgiving and his forgiveness doesn’t strict me as genuine. He didn’t forgive me because he wanted to make amends and have a relationship with me. He didn’t forgive me because he thought, “well crap I have four grandchildren I don’t know and I want the chance to know them.” No, he forgave me because he was dying. He forgave me because he was dying and wanted to make sure his affairs were in order and nothing stood in his way of getting into Heaven.
All these facts leave me in limbo. I don’t miss him but feel like I should because he was my father. There is nothing to miss. He wasn’t in my life and I’ve already spent to many years missing him. You can only miss a person for so long before you have to just move on for your own sanity. I can’t feel sadness that he is going to miss this or that event because he missed so much while he was alive. I can’t mourn the fact that my children lost their grandfather because he chose to not have a relationship with them. They aren’t missing anything because it was never there.
What I can feel is relief. Relief that my father is no longer in pain. Relief that he has moved beyond the world of addiction, guilt and pain that he lived in for the last decade. It feels wrong to feel relief; after all he’s dead. I feel fear that he isn’t sitting in Heaven like everyone wants to say he is. He use to say he was paving him way to Heaven one good deed at a time but you can’t buy your way into Heaven. You can’t dress up sin in fancy clothes and make it into a good deed. My father wasn’t a bad person. He was a good man; who just had a penchant for making bad choices. You can’t walk the line he walked and than assume you are going to automatically make it into Heaven. Though, I wish it was that easy.