Wednesday, October 03, 2012

On what would've been his 76th birthday

The other day, I almost picked up the phone to call my dad.

And then I remembered.

It's weird, because it's now been almost three and a half years, and it's the first time that has happened. I dreamt about him the other night as well, which I haven't done since right after he died. I've never smelled his cologne since, and I really do believe it was him saying goodbye and taking flight.

Betty and I almost never talk about him. I don't know if this is good or bad. It just is. But every once in a while Jordan will be doing something and she'll say, "Dad would have loved this kid so much."

And he would have. And he'd love little India as well.

I know now he was a better dad to me than to my brother, who is almost four years younger. Something shifted in my dad when my brother was very little. He started getting sick all the time in Bangladesh. I don't remember how he was in Egypt, but really wasn't doing well by the time we were in the US, leading up to his first suicide attempt.

Basically, what I realize is that I got more of the fun and my brother got more of the crazy. You can have the same parents and yet have very different parenting experiences.

It's not fair -  it's just birth order and timing. Hell, none of it's fair. It's just life.

My dad was sure he'd die at 72. I don't exactly know why; perhaps because that was the age of both of his parents, who died in different years, of different types of cancer.

But in the end, he was 72. He almost made it to 73. He almost made it to meeting Jordan. He almost a lot of things, I suppose.

The aftermath of suicide is so very complicated. I was devastated. I no longer had my dad, one of the most important people in my life. I was angry. He'd left us, really left us this time. We'd been abandoned. Lied to. Betrayed.

For the longest time I felt guilty every time I said anything negative about him. Or expressed anger towards him.Even though I was sometimes chokingly angry.

But you know, the aftermath of growing up with an unstable parent is complicated as well. When you look at our family with a little distance, there is some really fucked up stuff. I mean, besides the multiple suicide attempts.

Me, I can trace the roots of nearly all my insecurities back to my dad and his behavior. I can blame him, if I choose - but that's the lazy way out. We can all blame our parents for all our problems, really.

And even if we do so, they're still our problems, until we work them out.

My cousin Lyrae was in town recently, and we were talking about my dad and about grief. She said she's realized it's not linear. You might expect that it gets better and better and better, until it is all gone. But no. It is random and unpredictable, swinging wildly up and down, punching you out of the blue during a period of fineness.


I still get so sad, and sometimes resentful, but I think I've forgiven him for abandoning us. And I've almost entirely forgiven myself for the anger. If he were still around, he'd still be complicated. He's still be crazy. So in some ways, life is calmer now.

But I'd take the ups and downs of the old crazy, any day.

I'm rambling. I don't really know what I'm saying. It's just, you know, October third. It's my dad's birthday.

32 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Hugs to you, my friend. Thank you for the always support.

      Delete
  2. woah. good to get the thoughts out there, methinks. good to reflect, commemorate and take a breath.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you. I find it helpful. And the reminder to take a breath is a good one.

      Delete
  3. "When you look at our family with a little distance, there is some really fucked up stuff" This. pretty sure this can be said about every family i know... and if someone couldn't say this about their family i'm pretty sure i wouldn't know them anyway because they'd be very uninteresting.
    it might sound weird but i enjoy these types of posts, they reassure me that we're all human and sometimes shit is really sad and really hard. and you never know when those times are going to be.
    hope you're feeling lighter soon

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love this comment. Thank you. It's true - everything you said.

      Delete
  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  5. My mom's birthday is October 9 and she passed away 6 years ago this past March. (Cancer, not suicide.) She knew she was terminal, never told me or my (also younger) brother, and we had to find out from the hospice nurse that the end was near. My naiveté gave way to mourning which gave way to a feeling of freedom. Want to talk about guilt? Let’s discuss the weight lifted off one’s shoulders when their repressive single parent is suddenly no longer. The anger was there as well… not only for hiding the truth of the severity of the illness, but also for the years that preceded her illness, the decisions she made, the grudges she held, the pettiness of her behavior. I’ve moved beyond those feelings (mostly), but I will continue to remember those things, not to judge, but to keep the most real version of her alive. For all her faults, she had equal and greater achievements. The same can be said about me. And you so completely nailed it by saying that blaming our parents for our shortcomings is lazy. Because it is. It’s lazy to say “This is who I am. They made me who I am” and not “This is who I am, and I can change who I am. I can make myself whatever I want to be.”

    Our parents did the best they knew how with what they had. The older I get, the more I realize, they (and we) don’t know a damn thing.

    Sorry for the long-winded comment. This touched me in a place I hadn't yet vocalized and your post brought it out. Thank you.

    My point is this: life is about making progress. What's taken you 3 years, took me 6. And growth has to continue, right? Six years to realize that the sins of my mother don't have to carry on with me. Would I have ever learned that had she not passed away or would I be in a much more fragile and fucked-up state? Maybe that question is the same for you?

    Regardless, I'd take the crazy back too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, my gosh. Reading this totally made me cry. That is a lot to handle, and you sound like you're doing it so very well. I try to keep in mind that we are all doing the best we can, and as you said, our parents didn't know anything, and neither do we. We just try to do better. Big hugs to you.

      Delete
    2. Big hugs right back 'atcha. :)

      Delete
  6. "But I'd take the ups and downs of the old crazy, any day."

    The ups. The downs. So... human.

    My love to you and to Betty, and your brother and Nick and Jordan and India...

    *hugs*

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Love and hugs back to you, my friend. The ups and the downs - all real life.

      Delete
  7. Hunny bunny, I wish I had something brilliant to say. But I don't. So I will just say that you and Betty (and Nick and Jordan and little India) are all in my thoughts. Especially today.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, lovely Hillary. Big hugs.

      Delete
  8. oh, lisa, i just...don't know. every year i read your tribute (for lack of a better word) to your dad, and every year it sneaks up on me and then lays me flat out. i'm so sorry you have to experience this loss every day, and today of all days. imaginary internet friend hugs! ccc

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, Coleen, sorry for laying you flat out. I don't always feel the loss every day, all the time - it's gotten much better. Imaginary friend hugs to you, too!

      Delete
  9. You always write beautifully about your father. Sending lots of love your way.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Lynn. Sending you hugs on the prairie!

      Delete
  10. I agree with Jen. Families are complicated in the best of circumstances. What I love about you is the freedom you have to discuss the good and the bad about your family. Without a doubt, it is clear you felt love. That is one great gift.

    I'm sorry about the grief you feel in waves.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, that's a good way to put it - complicated in the best of circumstances.

      My dad was very angry that I wrote about what he saw as his private business. He never accepted that the fact that it not only affected but destroyed the rest of us made it our business as well, being that we were family and all. My mom was always fine with it, and that gave me a good deal of freedom.

      Delete
  11. Karen, random reader10/03/2012 10:29 PM

    Peace and comfort to you . . . grief is the most gut-punching trip of our lives, and you write about it well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much, Karen. It is, it really is.

      Delete
  12. He has such a beautiful smile and such loving eyes. I will not use the past tense because he still has them in your heart. He is there forever.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Anger is normal and forgiveness is imperative. I keep wanting to tell you everything will be better soon, but honestly I don't really think the crazy ever goes away, cause that's what crazy does. But that's ok too, isn't it? Oct. 3rd is my birthday too, I guess now I'll always think of your dad on that day as well, and that's good too, because sometimes I need to get out of my own head. Hugs.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Oh Lisa. Big hugs. I'm still, still, so sorry for your loss. <3 <3 <3

    ReplyDelete
  15. Having lost my two fathers - father and stepfather - I can very much identify. And it's not linear. But they are always with us. I recently had a health scare and day of a test, saw a sign that indicated my stepfather was with me. I didn't fully realize it until later and then I kind of lost it. Grief lasts but so does love. Hugs to you!

    ReplyDelete
  16. The pictures of your dad and you are beautiful. He looks like such a kind and loving man - he looks like he loved you so much. I'm guessing that if he could have stayed to know Jordan and India he would have. Profound depression is not a disease anyone chooses.... I'm so sad for your loss - no loss is easy but the kind you and Betty have gone thru and the abandonment you experienced is terrible. Love to you and your whole family.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Darktober. I feel where you're coming from. Mom died Oct. 16th. Little brother was a suicide Oct. 23rd. I used to LOVE October, got married on Halloween. Now, not so much.

    ReplyDelete
  18. I love you, honey. So honored that I got to share the experience with you.
    Hugs,
    K

    ReplyDelete

Tell me about it.