I guess I’m somewhere in there. Almost every moment of every day I intentionally don’t think about my father. I’m finding the best way to cope with a situation that is out of my control is to not think. What good is going backward when it’s filled with so much pain? I didn’t like being so needed by him. I didn’t like all the ugly his suffering brought out in both of us. I resented the constant issues, problems and screwups that needed fixing by me on a regular basis; the talking him down off emotional ledges, and his overwrought I’m sorrys and Thank yous. I like where I am in this strange limbo between fantasy and reality, where my father is miraculously having a good week and doesn’t need me, so we just don’t speak.
Over a year ago, I went to lunch with a friend whose father had recently passed. Like my father, he had his fair share of struggles and difficulties and being his daughter wasn’t easy. In fact, I wondered, even assumed, that now that he was gone, she would be relieved. Sad, yes, but comforted that someone who suffered so and made her suffer as well was finally at peace. I was apparently projecting because my assessment was not correct. She told me that there was no relief, only sadness, and the same unanswerable questions that will never be understood because death destroys any hope of resolution, however unlikely they may have been.
I have all these emotions which, like him, are a messy mass of contradictions, and make me keenly aware of what my friend was feeling. I don’t find relief in my father’s absence. I feel adrift. I have a gaping hole in my day that I used to dedicate to his calls or visits, and a similar one in my heart as I try to come to peace with the man he was in the beginning, and the man he was at the end, and how they were both my father.
All I know is that I don’t know anything—that was my father’s favorite expression, and it couldn’t be more true. So, I’m just going to keep going and “grieving” the way that works for me, which is by eating too much ice cream, reminiscing and laughing with my brother, and pretending it’s not real. I’m not in denial. I know he’s gone. But right now, it’s about moving slowly, one day at a time, until normal feels like normal again.