A year ago today you left this world.
It still feels like yesterday.
In some ways it is a little easier. In other ways it is still a very fresh and raw wound.
I still feel like every time I go to Mom's, you will be there, sitting in your chair. I still feel like every time Jack's cell phone rings, it will be you on the other end, asking him to come over and help you do something.
We went to Wakulla Beach the other day, and even though I tried my best to enjoy it, all I could see was the ghost of your memory, walking along the same stretch of shore. One of my first memories with you is there at that beach. I still remember, 31 years ago, you carrying me to the boat because I was terrified of the hundreds of fiddler crabs that scurried over the sand. I knew that in your arms I was safe. I longed for that sense of safety many times over the next few decades.
We had a volatile relationship for most of my life, but the last eight years was as close to perfect as we would ever get. I would give almost anything to have the chance to keep adding to those years.
I didn't realize you were telling me goodbye the last time you spoke to me while you were lucid. If I had known, I would have done so many things different. I would have said so much more. I would have hugged you. I take a small bit of comfort in the fact that the last words we spoke to each other were " I love you." I can count on both hands how many times you told me that once I was old enough to remember. Each time is etched in my mind so very clearly.
I didn't know it would be goodbye forever, Daddy.
I feel dead inside. Still. It is so hard to laugh and smile. Most of the time it's forced. The mention of your name still makes my throat close. Jack and Alex talk about you often. I just nod my head and pretend to smile. I don't have the heart to tell them it rips me to shreds each time.
I wish I could cry. I wish I could purge.
They say the body is 70% water.
I say my body is 70% tears that I have been unable to shed in 30 years. You taught me that to cry was to be weak. I know that is not true, but the training is so strong, so much a part of me, that I have never cried myself clean. Ever. I have had a life that requires many tears, and I have never been able to shed all of them. I have a few sets of strong shoulders that would let me cry on them..but I am unable to do so. I rather throw myself in front of a moving train than break down in front of someone. The sad part is, I can't do it in private either. I can cry sometimes...but never enough. If the day ever comes that the dam breaks...I am not sure I could recover.
A huge part of me is just gone. You took that with you...and I did not even know that you carried it with you.
I know now.
I still carry anger with me. Angry at the reason you died. Angry because the place you were at to heal did not take proper care of you in time. Angry because YOU SHOULD HAVE LIVED. You beat the goddamned cancer. It was GONE. Because of that terrible "rehab" facility you were in, the pneumonia was too far gone to save you. I am angry because you had that stupid DNR order...and the no artificial means order. So we watched you dehydrate to death, while drowning at the same time. I am angry I could not be there every day, the way I wanted to be. I was there when you went in. I was there half of a day and an entire night later. I managed to get Jack up there to say goodbye. I am angry that you waited until the one time NO ONE WAS THERE to die. I am angry that you died alone. I am angry that Alex has to grow up with out you.
I am angry you died.
There, I finally said it.
I'M FUCKING ANGRY THAT YOU LEFT ME!
I'm angry you didn't take me with you.
But I love you. So much it hurts to breathe sometimes.I miss you so much. My life has not been the same. Every night for the last year, since the day you died, I have told you goodnight before I went to sleep. Every night I tell you I love you and miss you and would give just about anything to have you here in the flesh.
I am going to stop now. I think.
Not because I don't love you or miss you or wish that you were here in the flesh with me, but because my ritual that used to bring me comfort is actually helping to keep that wound raw and open.My heart has not let you really die yet. My mind knows it. My spirit knows that you are free now. My heart still refuses to accept it.
I'm scared that I will be stuck here in hell forever.
I want to be free. I need to not think about you constantly. I need to let you go. I know you can't fully rest with me the way I am...pulling you here...holding you here.You need to be fully free, as much as I do.
I have to wake up, and face reality. You are gone, You won't be back, not as you were. I have to realize that it's okay. You served your time. Like mine, in different ways, your "life sentence" sucked ass. I am as angry that you escaped as I am that you are no longer here with me. With us. Because we all loved you intensely. I wish we knew just how intense before it was too late.
I don't know how to heal...so I have to wing it...just like I have always done.
I want you to know I will be okay. Eventually. I hope you were able to forgive me for all the stupid mistakes I made. I forgave you for yours.
I still would give just about anything to have you back, but I also know that you would hate that. You were ready, you were ready for years to get the hell out of this place.
Death is not hard for the dying. It's hell for the living.
The irony of the whole situation is that if you COULD speak to me, you would chew me out for feeling this way after all this time. Suck it up. Move on. Let it go.
I hear all the things you would say to me. I've never been very good at doing what I was told.
I love you Daddy. More than you could ever imagine. More than you ever knew. I wish I could have told you while you were still here. I just hope you heard all the times I've said it since you left.
I have to heal somehow. I don't want to talk to anyone anymore. I don't want to see anyone. I don't want to sleep...or wake.
I still have to live this life. I have to accept that you already lived yours.
You earned your freedom. I still have a few years left to serve.
So this is me, trying to let you go, Daddy.
My love for you will never fade, but you deserve to be truly free. Your memory will never die. The anguish has to go though. So today, on this terrible and beautiful anniversary of your timely and untimely death, I am going to work on setting us both free. I can't talk to you anymore, not for a while at least. Until it is not so raw, not so fresh.
So this is the last time I am going to call out to you..where ever you are. I ask you to give back that part of me that you took. I ask you to help me let you go.
I love you so much, Daddy.
Enjoy your rest. I'll see you when I fall asleep for the final time. Save me a seat next to you...
I love you.
(The first two videos were two of his favorite songs...the rest...are from my "Oh my god I am dying" playlist.)