6–8–18. Half-told stories
My heart is brimming with a lot of things I’d like to say to my father. But the way I am would keep me from writing them in eulogies on social media for others to read, because people who are dead don’t read, no matter how spirited our letters to them are.
He was loved while he was here, and he knew that much. I told him so often I began to sound like a broken record -thank God I did.
When women say that they are not lucky with men, it’s often with regards to estranged lovers and ill-fated relationships. I think that claim is not entirely true, because they chose those men, and luck has very little to do with who you choose to be with.
I am very lucky with the men whose presence in my life I had no control over. I am lucky, no, blessed, to call this man my father.
My father has been dead three years today and every day for these three years, I have thought about him. It’s hard to keep a chore, to make a conscious effort to remember a person every day.
But not if this person permeated every department of your life, not if you had meaningful conversations every day with them while they were alive. Then it would be effortless, everything would remind you of them.
My father had five children, and he was present in all our lives. So present that it has carried on even after he left. We all still subconsciously take decisions and carry ourselves in the measured, guarded manner that he taught us to, as though he were still here. The inside jokes he originated still pop up in our conversations, we still ‘sub’ him the way you would a person living on our earth.
My father was a prophet over the lives of each of his children. It hit me a few days ago how two of my siblings somehow circled back to doing things he casually spoke about long ago, things they weren’t interested in at the time.
He was empathetic and kind, insistent on discipline, yet deeply considerate and gracious. Although we agreed on the things that I think mattered the most, we disagreed on a few things.
My dad did not see why you should wear hair extensions for example, and he would complain when your hair -which wasn’t really yours, in his opinion- fell over your face in a manner that he thought was untidy. My dad stumbled on pictures of me where I looked nothing like he would have preferred -long, ‘fake’ hair, a very made-up face, and a dress that showed a little too much skin. It was a really big deal for him and he was very disappointed and upset with me. I went to bed that night really bothered. Not so much about my father’s displeasure with me, as I was about the fate of the new PC he was supposed to buy me the following day.
We went together to buy my PC the next day with not so much as a word about what had happened the night before, we conversed and exchanged bants as though nothing had happened. All had been forgiven. My father was gracious like that. Shortly before he died, he settled a huge fight between me and my sister by making us study Psalms 133 and discussing it with us, instead of simply reprimanding us for fighting. I really liked that.
I remember feeling so lost the first time I wrote Medical Board exams after his death, which was barely weeks after I got news of it. It felt absurd whining to anyone else about how stressful my exams were, I felt naked going into exam halls without the short phone calls I had with him to pray before every paper.
Three years today and I still feel very naked and exposed to the elements, I feel lost and disoriented without my father’s physical presence as a covering over me. My dad and I took all my major life decisions together, and it’s heartbreakingly painful that I have a lot of important milestones ahead of me that I cannot seek his counsel and prayers over.
I feel cheated out of a lot more than I ever got to have. I miss not only the time I had with my father but also all the really beautiful things I will never get to experience with him. For instance, my dad would make the best grandfather in the world, and I frankly have not come to terms with the fact that he and my children would miss out on that.
Grief is one pervasive, hyperbolic thing. A pit that is wider and deeper than the loss that led up to it.
It colors your entire life and after some time, it stops simply being about the person who died. Grief is complicated that way.
Grief is the thing that makes you reluctant to get out of bed, unmotivated, and uninterested in all the things that give life its meaning. It reaches over and beyond the cause.
They ask you what is wrong and you can’t say “it’s because my father is dead”, because it isn’t. Yet in a lot of ways, it has everything to do with it.
Not too many people talk about the anger that accompanies grief. You’re consumed by it, anger that is not directed at anyone, anger that at the end of the day, drains all your strength and amounts to nothing. Particularly when the loss is as senseless as my father’s was.
I am a person of faith because my father was a man of faith. I have had a very convoluted experience with the christian faith, questions, and doubts that only got louder the more I interacted with professing christians, but my father’s life and faith were -and still very much are- an unspoken testimony to me. His life was truly an epistle, known and read by all who knew him.
Losing a good person is a bittersweet experience, the sweet heightens proportionately with the bitter. The more beloved they were, the harder it is to contemplate their loss.
But to have lost is to have had, and as painful as it is to have lost a really good thing, I am grateful for the having.