I found out today that my father died.
My biological father.
To those of you who don’t know, when I refer to my father, 95% of the time I’m referring to my step-father. A wonderful man who had a great and powerful influence on my life. He died the year before I graduated with my BFA.
Today I found out that my biological father died.
Sorry, I just had to repeat that sentence. I think I’m in what is referred to as shock.
He was found dead in his apartment, believed to have been dead for about a week. The only reason why he was found was because it was starting to smell. He was an alcoholic that just couldn’t stop drinking. This once tall, handsome, strong man had evolved into an unrecognizably shrunken emaciated man with handicaps from untreated injuries due to drunken blackouts. The last few years were the worst of his life. My brother tried on several occasions to help him, get him into rehab, get him sober and functioning but he just couldn’t stop. Isn’t that the saying, “They just can’t stop.” and I find myself in a strange sort of fog where my brain hasn’t caught up to my heart and my heart doesn’t know which way to turn.
The strangest thing is that he came to me in a dream about a week ago and I was annoyed and said to him, “What are you doing here, you’re not dead yet?” I cried that morning for all of the love lost and the residual guilt that my innocent child self somehow still holds a sliver of; believing somewhere inside her beautiful perfect little heart that had she been loveable enough for him to love her back she would have saved him, he would have been good to her and mommy and Jacques. I hug this little girl and tell her it’s not her fault, it never was and that she is the most loveable magician that ever lived and that if he was so lost that he couldn’t see that, the loss, unfortunately, was his. I asked God and my father for forgiveness that morning. I asked to be forgiven for giving up hope for his redemption and I asked that my father be forgiven for never trying.
I’m not writing this for condolences, in fact I send my condolences to those of you out there who had the rare opportunity to experience the good man inside of him; a good man that I heard about every now and again from random strangers who had, what they would describe as, the pleasure of knowing him. I rarely, if ever saw this man, the man I grew up knowing was not kindhearted or thoughtful or loving, but rather, mean, selfish and narcissistic.
And still, I’m sad. He was my father after all. I’ve been told that I look like him.
I’m sad for the life he could have lived and sad for the life he chose to live instead.
I’m sad for my brother who always held on to the hope that our father would wake up one day and decide to be a father.
I’m sad that I let go of that hope many years ago.
I’m sad for my mom and all of the horrible memories she has still living inside her.
I’m sad that he never tried.
I’m sad that he wasn’t a different man.
I’m sad for the loss of a man that was never in my life.
I’m sad for the idea of a memory that was always a dream.
I was going to write about the pains that I incurred as a side effect of being his daughter but feel that I have dealt with those issues and released them to the ether a long time ago. He did try sometimes. As best he could, given the type of human he was, on occasion I would get a sober phone call from him, asking about my life, asking about the basics, that he may go to the bar that evening and brag to his drunken bar-house mates about how talented his daughter is living in the big city. I harbor no resentments, but rather feel only sadness for a life lost that had so many opportunities to be found.
If I were to offer any words of wisdom, they would be this. Don’t ignore the signs. The Universe gives you infinite opportunities to make different choice, better choices, listen to them. Don’t waste your life. Stop hurting yourself. Stop hurting others. Don’t be afraid to face yourself because it’s within you that you will find love, you will need that love to share with everyone in your hemisphere, and believe me when I say that loving yourself and passing that love onto those around you is the greatest gift in the world. Embrace the love that reaches out and hold on tight because in the end that love will be all that you have and without it you have nothing.