It will be one year since my dad passed, tonight, December 3rd at 12:03am.
The night it happened I didn’t sleep for the following 48 hours. After the initial shock, there was a lot of legalities with Dad’s estate and drama with certain members of the family and the others Dad was close with. It’s not the most significant thing, though, that I remember from those dark times, but a small rust spot.
Overwhelming love and an abundance of help from family and friends flooded the void that got ripped from inside me when he died, leaving no time for loneliness and the vacuum of depression that would’ve left me high, dry, and empty. I’ve talked about the night that he died before in previous blog posts, in small bits and pieces that I took out of my mental drawer and closed when I felt it’s too much; it’s my emotional dam that I can dry at the sudden feeling of too much pain and ache. It’s how I’ve learned to manage through this past year.
Loss is the most powerful and indiscriminate force we encounter in all of humanity.
Which is why I wanted to take this post to reflect on my identity in loss and how it’s changed me in the past year—for the better or the utmost worst.
Selfishness comes in hard after a loved one passes. I saw this first hand with someone Dad didn’t necessarily trust, but kept around because he was a lonely individual. Everyone wants a piece of something, anything, valuable from the dead whether emotionally or monetarily valuable. I don’t want to say I think this happened within the family, because it didn’t at all. My family and the close friends were incredibly graceful and I made sure everyone got a piece of Dad in some aspect that wanted one.
One of my many demons, however, is struggling with this personal selfishness when I knew I emotionally and logistically needed to be. Even before Dad passed I worried about being obliviously selfish and viewed by others as selfish. It’s such a negative hue of the human psyche, to be selfish, but also important in times of distress in an incredibly small dose.
But even in the end of one year without Dad, I’ve failed to manage my selfishness to not hurt others.
My immediate family was much more together when he passed. We lived very separate lives before, but when it was time we surged together in one emotional ball of energy. It wasn’t always a strong-family force in those times. It was messy and high-strung and tense between my mom, sister, and brother. There was fighting, drinking, heartache, and total imbalance. We all were dealing with loss in our own way and the energy didn’t mesh well in one house.
We are all so separated one year later. My mom moved out of state, sister and I sort of kept contact, and my brother and I do not talk anymore. It’s nothing I’m proud of admitting, but it’s just a fact of life. I think Dad was a little pissed about it to be honest, though, because the day I decided to cut things off I was at a stoplight in the middle of downtown Pittsburgh and something told me to turn my head to the left over by a busy sidewalk and my brother stood there at the corner staring at me. We didn’t say anything, but he simply pointed to the stoplight that had since turned green and I drove off.
While I’m on the topic of family…
I want to admit a quality I inherited from living with my dad for so many years. I am the utmost trash at reaching out to family members and friends. It’s something that I find people take so personally, when it’s just a flaw of my personality and I have a hard time explaining to those that take offense by it or think it insensitive. I don’t want the common misconception of me not wanting to talk to them or caring to reach out even be a thought further. It’s just how I operate. I think of my family and close friends daily and would love to talk to them, I’m just bad at making the first step—which is something that I’m trying to improve with even my own mother. It’s not personal, it’s just a part of who I am unfortunately. It’s something that has become stronger since he passed. It was something that I was terrible at even with Dad.
I read our text conversations sometimes when I especially miss him (more than the average every day) and have to face the incredibly heavy guilt of all the text messages I have from him where I didn’t answer. It’s something I wish I could change but it’s not something I’ll let paralyze me.
Self-doubt and deprecation slipped in the later months of this year.
It’s something that I find the most difficult to struggle with in this chipped and obscured mirror I see myself in. It comes with an incredibly amount of questions only Dad could answer and others could help talk me off a ledge.
Some days I don’t like the person I’ve become or see in the mirror. Beyond the small, bright lights that I see circling around my head of the great parts of me that I’m blessed with, the really dark spots that cast the deepest shadows against my skin are greater. Not all days, only some days.
I can’t begin to tell you how many times I heard my dad say “You’ll always have this house to come home to”. One year later it’s on the verge of being foreclosed on and I have no way of stopping it. Before recently, I wanted to let it go and forget about it. But a growing part of me, with all the troubles I’ve had selling it, thinks that isn’t the right choice. It almost sold three times now and each time the buyer’s backed out around the two-week mark prior to closing date.
I think about all the help I was given and how my decisions kind of stifled that help. I know how much help I was given, and still am given to this day with Dad’s things, but I keep seeing any decision I make to help fix the situation almost erase the progress made by that help.
What I’m trying to explain, really, is that no one wins with loss.
I’m still beyond a mess, but I play an incredible part in faking most of my togetherness. I also don’t want it to seem like I’m all mess and no success. Great things have happened for me in the past year as well. My self-critical parts come out a lot more these days but I make a point to remind myself of the little lights that make up myself just as much as the dark parts.
There’s an image I can’t get out of my head, thinking back on this year without Dad. After 12:03am tonight there won’t be a minute following that he occupied. He was alive this time last year, but after tonight it won’t be like that anymore. He wouldn’t of been coming home from a week away with work this time next year, he would’ve been gone already.
This metaphorical cassette tape that’s overwriting as it records haunts me and I’m fearful of whatever comes after. Fearful but hopeful.
If there’s one thing that I see in myself after this incredibly hard year, is that I have the undying desire to survive.
Self-preservation is a light that hangs right in front of my eyes, blinding me yet enticing me further. It allows me to not get sucked into the darkness and fixate on the sadness.
I prefer to recognize loss as an acquaintance, turning up out of the blue (uninvited). There are two options when it comes: 1. I let it push me down and keep me underneath it, or 2. I can validate it’s existence with a strong nod, talk to it, drink tea with it, and simply live with it but firmly ask it to leave when I’ve had enough. Every time I choose the latter, for Dad.
Here’s to you, Dad, for all of us missing you in this life.
I love you.
Song: Bones of Ribbon by London Grammar