So, today marks a year since Dad passed, and like anyone, the loss still stings for me. I continue to comfort myself knowing that he got to meet and spend some great time with both of my own children, saw me finally on a good path within myself (a long and still rather incomplete journey), that for all the tension of our relationship when I was in my 20s that we had moved well passed it and were very close, and so on; but mostly, over this past year I have spent a good deal of time wondering if I really appreciated all the "small" moments I had with him. Particularly when I was Gray and Tanner's age.
At some point - and this was certainly before he passed - I began looking at my relationship with Dad pretty much exclusively through the lens of my relationship with Gray and Tanner. I have found myself constantly drawing parallels - likely unfairly projecting - all kinds of things. I wonder for example, when I am reading with Gray or Tanner at bedtime why I cannot recall dad reading to me similarly, yet I can "feel" the same kind of sensation from the memories I do have from when I was that age. Perhaps it's not about the act but about the connections made.
And particularly with Tanner, since he is about the same age difference to me as I was to Dad, so I many times get lost in this sense of walking a predetermined path with him. Some of that is comforting and some of that is truly terrifying (though also kind of silly when I really get my head around it) and at least with Gray I don't have that. Hopefully as time goes on it will dissipate with Tanner. It feels unfair to both him and me to be burdened with something so against my own sense of life as "destiny." Certainly repeated destiny is counter. I'm working on it, though, like so much of what I do, it seems to be a sadly slow process.
I also need to acknowledge that like my eulogy for Dad last year (http://crossfeedthemix.blogspot.com/2013/07/dad.html) this post it truly nothing more than self-serving. A way to have a cathartic release of my feelings with the misguided notion that while it's perhaps healthy for me to do so, the idea that anyone else would or should care is somewhat absurd. In fact when I posted last year that Dad had passed, I was almost immediately consoled by two very good friends who I learned had also recently lost their own fathers. They reached out to me immediately and I am so grateful; but I also continue to be struck by the fact that I had no idea that they had lost their own fathers too. It wasn't because they had hidden it, it was because I had not been paying attention. I am generally a rather self-absorbed person, and that is something that when I feel particularly not in control of I try to force myself to think back on those two friends to pull my head back to where it should be. My rate of success is clearly not great, but at least it's a step in the right direction. Or at least that's what I will continue to tell myself for now. Anyway...
When I think of Dad I get this wonderful, overwhelming sense of joy and a kind of internal warmth. When Mom passed I was in such a bad place within myself that over the past year I have frequently wondered if I lost a kind of connection with her because I was not in a place to cultivate it at the time. That fills me with tremendous regret - a kind of guilt I cannot seem to let go of no matter how much time passes or how much I tell myself that she understood I was not the man I am now. As though there was a very important moment that I let slip away, never to be reacquired, no matter the reason or my desire to do so.
I am a big believer in the importance of moments. They matter to me. Even when I don't want them to. I find them hard to let go of even when I know I should. It's a blessing and a curse in many ways, and drives my family nuts at times. A topic for another post perhaps...
In any case, this dichotomy of sensations - joy versus regret - on paper, would seem to imply a kind of balance that in most other circumstances I would actually embrace, but here it feels false. Though the last weeks for Dad were less than ideal (I still harbor a lot of real anger towards some of his "caregivers" over this - moments it seems once again I cannot/will not? let go of), he was in good shape overall prior to that, and his life - he told me - was good. He was happy, albeit for his missing Mom. But Mom had been sick. Very sick for a long time. I feel she (and the rest of us, selfishly) was cheated. Cheated out of so much that came after. Grandkids and so on. Just the joy of a shared life with Dad. And somewhere, not so deep down, I still struggle with the knowledge that in some ways I may have caused it. I hurt her. Deliberately I now see in the year before she got ill. It's a longer "confession" that I will post here (and it's still very raw so many years later that I am certainly using that as an excuse not to fully reveal it - Good Lord, I am clearly still no different than I was back then in too many ways! Still too much fear within me) but while I may not acknowledge destiny, I do believe in both Fate and definitely in Karma. So let's for now just say that I wonder if I twisted Karma in such a way that forced a kind of massive life event to change my perspective since nothing else was working. On the other hand, what an incredibly self-absorbed notion for me to even consider. I need to do better.
Ok, well, this is getting a good bit darker than I intend when I started writing, so maybe let's get back to Dad for now...
Over the years after Mom passed he had girl friends - several quite serious, by any standards - but to me it was clear at the time that none of them would ever even remotely approach what he had with Mom. Not because I was rooting against them - I honestly liked when he had someone to get him to do things and get out of the house and such - but just because it was not his way to move on like that. It wasn't within him to let go in a way to fully recover and give himself to someone else in even a cursory manner that paralleled his relationship with Mom. That's not just my clear bias talking, it's a fact. He tried several times. Even basically living with two of them for a period of time. It just wasn't going to happen. And it really had nothing to do with them either. He just looked at all his relationships through the lens of the one he had with Mom, and no relationship could possibly have the same view for him.
I think that's why he had so many great relationships with women far younger than him. Nothing physical mind you - more like granddaughters (goodness, the age difference was stunning! Good for you, Dad! Ha!) He needed that feminine kind of energy in his life and this was a way for him to have it. I think the proof is that the purely plutonic relationships with the younger girls lasted up till he passed, and in fact they are in a few cases still in contact with my brothers and I.
Like anyone, I just miss him. I miss my Mom. I miss the relationship I had with Dad and the sense of wholeness that he restored to me years after Mom died when he took Michele and the boys into his heart. While I know he's at peace, with Mom, I am still so selfish (try as I might to not be) that I want him around still, even if it keeps him from her.
My view remains myopic in that regard. Perhaps that's what grief is about - at least for me. Maybe when my view is more opened up I will be left with only the sense of joy I crave and no loss or regret. I tend to move in extremes - particularly with regard to emotion. Not ideal, but I'm not going to pretend it's not the case. So I'm going to focus on the joy. I figure if nothing else it's what both Mom and Dad would want.