So many things I want to say to him
But I just place a rose on his grave and talk to the wind.”
These last few months have been hard on me for a number of reasons. Some of them have been mentioned here, others have not. Some of them are obvious and easy to predict for anyone who knows the situation. Others, however, are not so clear. Unless you’re me. Or you know me really well.
One of the biggest weights I’ve been carrying around for the past few months (wow, has it already been a few months?) actually stems from what used to be a great comfort to me. According to what I personally believe, I haven’t really *lost* my dad. He died, that’s true, and he’s no longer here with me in a physical sense. But I believe he can still see me, hear me, love me from wherever he is. When I was really down, feeling hopeless or depressed or lost in an uncertain world, I used to close my eyes, huddle up with my arms around my knees, and imagine that my dad was behind me, with his arms around mine, holding me and rocking me until I felt better. Maybe it’s silly, but I always felt better.
C., a friend of mine from high school, was talking to me once a few years ago. I was telling her about J. and our relationship, and how I thought he might be the one I’d marry. I was reminded again, in that conversation, how differently (not better or worse, just different) my friends from high school know me. Upon hearing that I was getting very serious about a relationship with a guy, her first question was, “Would your dad have approved?” Those friends, they get that he’s always on my mind; they get it in a way that a lot of the friends I’ve made in college and beyond don’t. I miss him, but I could always comfort myself with the belief that he could still see and feel me, in some way.
“Are you looking down upon me? Are you proud of who I am?”
This belief I have has helped me through many moments of sadness through the years – wishing he could see me graduate from Stanford, for example, or know that I was becoming a teacher after all these years. I would say, “I wish he could see… I bet he would have been proud of me.” And I would comfort myself by saying, “He can see. And he is proud.” And others, who understood, would do the same: “Your dad is probably so proud of you, watching you become such a great person.” It was a great way to live.
But there’s a flip side to this. If I believe he sees the good things I do, if I believe he sees the things that make him proud, I have to wonder if he doesn’t see everything I do, including the things that might make him ashamed. Over these past few months, that’s been one of the biggest stumbling blocks for me – the knowledge that my dad can see everything I’ve done, all the mistakes I’ve made, all the horrible decisions and hurtful actions. What must he think of me? How much have I disappointed him? How badly have I let him down? You can’t imagine the tears I’ve shed over this.
I worked up the courage, finally, to ask my mom what she thinks he would have said, if he were still around. She said, in all honesty, that it would depend on if she talked to him first or not. “Because if I’d talked to him first,” she said, “he wouldn’t have said anything. He would have loved you and supported you no matter what.” But she admitted that if not, “he probably would have said something.” Oh, sure, she could have gone on to remind him of how many stupid decisions he and his friends had made through the years, and how they had always been forgiven for those. And certainly once I was in the hospital, he would only have thought of my welfare – he would only have worried about me, because he loved me.
“I wish I could’ve stood where you would’ve been proud
But that won’t happen now, that won’t happen now.”
I cannot help but feeling, in my low moments, that I’ve disappointed my father beyond all redemption. I cannot help but hate myself for doing what I’ve done while he could see it all. I talked to Lady M a bit about this, and she reminded me that if he could see the bad, he could also see that I had no malicious intentions, and that I regretted my decisions, and he would understand. But it’s hard to really feel that. All I feel is the disappointment and, yes, the shame I must have caused him.
And it hurts, to have let him down so completely. And I wonder if I’ll ever feel the love again, without the disappointment.
Day 13 of SaBloBoMo: It’s Happy Bunny: Life. Get One. by Jim Benton
To completely change the tone of this post (‘cause that’s part of why the monthly tags are good, remember?), I bring you the wisdom of It’s Happy Bunny. Everyone needs more It’s Happy Bunny in his or her life. Trust me on this.
This is sort of a general wisdom book, but there are three other books with more specific aims (horoscopes/astrology, love, and vice/virtues, respectively). In Life. Get One. you can learn all sorts of useful tips, such as
- “When life gives you lemons, use them to squirt lemon juice in the eyes of your enemy.”
- “You can’t have your cake and eat it too. But you can have your cake and eat someone else’s too, and that’s kind of better anyway.”
- “Don’t laugh at stupid people. If you do, they might go away, and then who will we laugh at?”
You can also look forward to the fable about the bear and the jerk chicken, and the chart that combines physical appearance with intelligence to tell you about any person you might ever meet. Doesn’t this sound like a book you need on your shelf right now?