I have a small hand written note you gave me 4.5 months before you died. It’s the only thing I have that you once touched. You taught me the safety of knowing I was protected when you were home. You gave me complete and unconditional love. You never once raised your voice to me. Not once did you hurt me physically or damage me with words of contempt or hatred. I learned through your example that love is patient and kind and I miss both your wisdom and guidance, when it comes to my own children. You were a good father and I know how lucky I was to have you in my life.
‘I miss you’ seems inadequate. You simply don’t miss a parent who loved you and who you treasured, after they die. It’s like living with a missing limb, perhaps. They feel like they are there, you think about them as if they were and are occasionally, actually surprised to remember that they aren’t. In that moment you are either crushed by the sudden removal of oxygen in your lungs by the vicious punch in the gut the memory of their loss brings, or you feel compressed, crushed slowly by the sadness that you felt closer to when they left you.
You feel abandoned, not ready to deal with the world on your own. You feel overwhelmed that your children will look to you as you did to your parent and it will scare you because you now understand you really know nothing at all and you don’t feel prepared for the responsibility. When you lose someone you are changed. The death of a loved one shapes some people, others it bends or breaks. You never really know which you’ll be until you experience it, in spite of how you normally reacted to other traumas in your life. The reason is simply because you think you understand death. You are aware of what it ‘means’ but you have no comprehension of how it ‘feels’ and it is the feelings that surround a loved ones death, that can immobilize you or bring you to your knees at any given moment.
You never get used to missing someone who’s died, you simply try to live in the moment as much as you can because you are acutely aware that life ends. It’s suddenly personal. You don’t realize how important a physical presence is until the potential to have it again, is no longer there. Your short term world is what matters because you can not live in the past, as it would be too painful, and you can not think of the future as it hurts to imagine about them not being there with you. It’s why as people get older, they live in the present and in the moment, because they know how devastating it feels to live anywhere else.
I miss you, Dad. I miss you so much that I try to not think about it and simply remember individual moments with you. You’re not being here is the biggest loss to my life and has impacted me in ways that I can’t explain because it’s simply every emotion I have being torn into various directions, concurrently. Missing you is the chaos in my heart, the absent rationalization in my mind, the sadness in my eyes. I wasn’t ready to lose you…and I’m still hurting from your loss.