My dad’s name was Michael, and he was 54 when he died on Sunday, February 12, 2017. My dad was loving, tough, determined, intelligent, and passionate. And I feel like he was unjustly stolen from us. It’s hard to describe how losing a parent changes things. You find yourself wallowing in a well of depression. You find yourself angry and bitter. You find the world suddenly missing some of its light. Days are darker, time is agonizingly slow, and the slightest thing can trigger the flow of tears you keep trying not to cry.
Now that he’s gone, I’ve come to realize something. I realize that despite his being temperamental and seemingly pissed off at the entire universe, my dad fully embraced unconditional love. Very few people, I’ve found, truly understand the meaning of unconditional love. He did though, and no matter how hard it was for him to get past his anger, he never stopped loving. It might have been days or weeks, even months before he overcame whatever it was that hurt him, but he would. Differences meant nothing, angry words were left behind, and all that remained was the unbreakable bond he’d formed with his family.
This doesn’t mean that he was always forgiving. Unless you were one of his daughters, he could hold on to a grudge with a grip so tight not even a god could break it. But in the last couple of years of his life, he’d learned and mastered forgiveness too. He made peace with those who had hurt him and he had hurt back. It made him lighter at heart. He was happier. He was calmer. His temper was no longer as explosive as it once was. Even through his messages to me, I could tell something had changed, and it was for the better.
Yet since his death, something in me has changed. I’ve reached the stage in my grief where not only am I profoundly hurt, but I’m carrying around a lot of rage. I’m starting to open my eyes to the wrongs I didn’t want to believe before. I could have had so many more years knowing my dad if it hadn’t been for one person. My whole life I’ve held her in the same light I did when I was a little girl. The pedestal may have been battered, but it never fell. It didn’t matter that I hadn’t seen her since I was ten. It didn’t matter she’d abandoned me and my sister, or that she’d made little effort staying in contact with us. I made excuses for her. She’s sick. She couldn’t help it. We’re better off because she didn’t have the capacity to raise us.
It’s true my mother’s mental health has never been stable. But right now, I don’t want to make excuses for her. When I was around eight years old I spent a brief amount of time with my dad. That was until my mother did something unforgivable. She left him for the second time, but that’s not what I’m so pissed off about. It’s the fact that she didn’t even leave him a means to contact me. She didn’t even tell him where we went or that we were even going away. She stole my time with him from me.
What right did she have cutting out the one parent who gave a damn about me? She spouts all these grand words of love for me, but where has she been? Not here. When I told her my dad had died…I wanted to kick her. She went on about herself and how she felt about him without so much as asking if I was okay. I’ve come so close to hating her that I can taste the bile in the back of my throat when I think about her. But I’m being selfish now. My bitterness is overshadowing the fact that there was a great man. His name was Michael, and he was my dad.
He left behind 4 daughters, a granddaughter, and a family that loved him deeply. I worry most about my sisters. They’re young, too young to have lost a parent. But I know they’ve inherited our dad’s strength. I can see it in the way they carry on despite the hardships in their lives. I’m proud of them. Somehow we’ll get through all of this. We might have to take the long way around, but we’ll get to a place where thinking of Dad won’t leave a painful knot in our chests. We’ll be able to smile and talk about how amazing he was.
Our dad’s name was Michael. He was 54 when he died. He wasn’t perfect, but he loved us, and we’ll never stop loving him.