Last year, around this time, my friend lost her father.
As is customary, I went to her house to pay my respects a few days after his death (I had missed the funeral).
My dad had just flown back into town and he too had missed the funeral. I remember seeing him at her house.
"Hi Dad" I might have said. "How are you?"
He would have smiled and said hello.
The gathering would have been divided - women on one side, men on the other so there wouldn't have been much opportunity for us to interact. Plus we were there for someone else. His friend. My friend's father.
I had carpooled with my cousin. I thought, as we left, that I could catch a ride with him. But it would have been out of his way so I didn't.
I think I took him for granted. Do all children take their parents for granted? I regret every day that I ignored him. I regret every time that I got upset at him. And the times that I upset him - the man who rarely got upset.
We didn't know that within a few months it would be my friend who would be condoling me at his funeral. "I have nothing to say except that I know," she said as she hugged me. If we had known would it have been different? Don't we know that death is inevitable? Don't we know that it can claim anyone, anytime, any day? Why don't we behave like we know this? Why do we forget?
When he died we got accounts from all kinds of people who told us the impact he'd had on their lives. As I listened to them I wondered how I, who lived with him, did not see this side of him. What is it about family dynamics that skews our perceptions of each other?
Grief hits you when it's least expected. And I have been finding these past few weeks particularly difficult. I have felt that I don't deserve to cry for him. That somehow had I behaved differently I would then be allowed to cry. I don't deal with confrontation well. I don't show my emotions easily. Well I do, it's just not the ones that count. I can make all the excuses in the world but it doesn't change the fact that I don't think I treated my dad the way he deserved to be treated. I'm not sure where to say it so I'm saying it here. I can't actually speak the words.
But I did love him. And it was the last thing I said to him. He was a beautiful man. He was my father. The memories are filling me up. And I still can't believe that he's gone.
Grief. It's a crazy weird process. I'm still trying to figure my way around it.
I hope that I am not exploiting his memory by revealing this here. Just that this is cheaper than therapy.