On Friday, I got the call from my mom that my father passed; I didn’t know how to feel. I know how I should feel, but the reality is “that” feeling feels ingenuine. I remember seeing my father a total of two times, once when I was 18 and the other time, last year at my cousin’s wedding. You see, my father left before I turned one, and when he reached out to me later in life, the time apart had done so much damage the bridge couldn’t be rebuilt.
We would talk on the phone on occasion; he would see how I was doing and like my Facebook pictures from time to time. But, the interactions lacked depth. So, when I got the call that he was dead, there was a short reset and sensation similar to an ache, but not quite.
I’ve never been the cry right then type of person. When my grandmother passed, I didn’t cry until we were at her funeral. With one look at my crying uncle, I could no longer hold it together, and all the tears fell. All the memories of the times we shared came flooding back. And I realized that I would never get to see her again. My family would never go over to her house for the holidays. I would never braid her hair, and I would never get to hear her curse out her home-health-aid. I would miss all the memories, and I would forever miss what could have been.
But, with my father, there are little to no memories to reflect upon. When I saw him when I was 18, I was a moody adolescent with an attitude because he left in the first place. When I saw him again, in my thirties, I just enjoyed the moment. With less than twenty-four hours worth of memories and a lost future of what could have been, I sat down in the tub last night during my shower and tried to find conjure up the emotions society said I was supposed to feel. Mixed with the steady stream of hot water came crocodile tears, followed by a day-long headache.
I posted a picture last night on my Instagram and Facebook. It was a picture taken at my cousin’s wedding with my mom and father; we all looked happy. That day we laughed, danced, and ate, and when the night was over, we talked about visiting him in North Carolina. Other family problems happened, then COVID happened, and before I knew it, he was gone. Below the picture was messages of condolences and prayer emojis from various friends and followers. I appreciated every one of them, but I couldn’t help but wonder if they felt worse for me than I did for myself.
Last night my brother and sister-in-law called me to express their condolences; this was interesting considering my brother actually spent more years getting to know my father than I did. We laughed about it, but the truth of the situation stung a bit. I know he left for a good reason, but I’d be lying if I said I totally understood. I’d be lying even more if I said I forgave him for it.
Holding onto that grudge won’t change the fact that my father is gone, and he won’t ever be coming back. There will be no more calls to make or receive. I’ll never see him like a Facebook post. And he’ll never get to attend my hypothetical wedding or meet his hypothetical grandchild.
Another thing I realized is that the news of death comes in waves. The first wave acknowledges death; it’s the heavy feeling in your stomach that first weighs you down. The second is missing; missing the person and the memories of them. But the last, which is the one I always feel, is the feeling of regret. I always wish that I had done more. Could I have called more? Could I have texted more? Could I have visited sooner? When my grandmother passed, I saw her a week before, and we spoke often; but I still felt regret and wished that I had done more.
Death sucks. Getting the news that someone you know, love, or care for died sucks. Wishing you had done more while they were alive sucks. And knowing that you’ll never get the chance to do things over, or better, sucks. My father wasn’t a perfect man, but he was my father, and I wouldn’t exist without him. So, I have to thank him for contributing to my existence. I have to thank him for loving me from a distance. And I have to thank him for trying.
Thank you. I love you. I will miss you.