I have learned so far…
It happened unexpectedly. Standing in a room with people who I recognize as relatives, but have on occasion felt no connection to, I’m forced to relive the moments I have worked very hard to forget. I no longer have the luxury to compartmentalize and must now come face to face with the father that I decided to erase all emotional connection to, is now dying.
When you realize that the big things, the really big things turn out to be far less valuable than the hurt that you treasure as a result of them. Redemption is earned and not given, moreover you can only earn it from yourself. I have spent so many years training myself to keep up a façade of stone and impenetrability. Life has taught me, what I once mistook for strength was really cowardice and immaturity. At best, I can hope for healing, and at worst more hard truths.
Where it started
I woke up one weekend not long ago, to what promised to be a day like any other. I received several messages from family, to let me know that our father’s condition was deteriorating. I am aware that the last 6 years have only been available to him, through the use of various palliative treatments. Our relationship for the past 20 years has been more or less non-existent. The story is the same for my elder siblings, as I am the youngest of four.
As a note to parents of children separated by large age gaps, be mindful. Help your younger children maintain those relationships. Growing up as an only child and knowing you have brothers and sisters is a bit lonelier than being an only child in the more traditional sense. Stories of fractured families are not new, but this one is mine. I’ve not lived long enough to share a life story, what I have is more a lesson. The sheer weight of carrying the hurt of broken relationships is smothering. All at once I realized that I did actually care, in a far larger capacity than I ever anticipated.
None of this can bear fixing. I cannot recapture the years that have hastened away without my permission, nor the hard feelings that I have treasured as a means of preserving my ability to soothe my ego with righteous indignation. The divide that continues to exist between myself and the rest of my “primary familial unit” continues, with some exception, but continues nonetheless. I blame no one and everyone, while in the end I know owning the isolation I have created is a must. Removing the boundaries, I have laced with electric toxicity is left to me.
I mourn the impending loss with a consternation I have never felt before. At the same time, I feel guilty for allowing myself to feel the sadness that only my older siblings can own. I tell myself that I will be sad on their behalf, but in truth I regret a fully realized relationship that will never be.
I speak to him in my way hoping that after the transition my messages will be waiting for him. I want you to know what you meant and what you missed. A part of me loves you like the little boy who always wanted what the other little boys had. I missed you then and I miss you now. I will give the love I wanted from you to my children. I know they will thank you. I will never tell them what you weren’t, but show them what you could have been.
I love you anyway. I can’t cry anymore. I will always remember what you did share with me and thank you for the strength I gained through struggle.