Death. The death of someone you love or loved, you know or knew at any point in your life - it can affect a person in unexpected ways. This post here tells the story about my father, you have to read it to understand today's post.
Basically, when I was a little girl I had a mommy and a daddy, a sister and a brother. We lived in a house and daddy worked while mommy stayed home with us kids. At some point when I was in elementary school, my dad got sick. He had a heart attack, then another one. He was only in his late 20's when he had the first one. By the time I was a pre-teen, we had discovered that my dad was a drug addict. Cocaine was his drug of choice. He chose that crap over his family. He moved out and my parents divorced. I'm sure the chain of events was longer than I remember it, because it felt to me like one day I had a daddy and the next day I had a drug addict loser for a father.
Anyway, my father died when he was 44 years old. It was March of 1993, and I was pregnant with my son Trevor. I woke up one Sunday afternoon to my answering machine blinking furiously. My sister and I had not seen or spoken to him in years, and she had left me several messages that he was in the hospital, and that he was dying. They did not expect him to make it to the next day, and did I want to go visit him with her?
*sigh* It was awful. My sister and I went together (we were only 20 and 21 years old) and our father, 44 years old, was lying in a hospital bed with tubes keeping him alive. He looked like he was 80. His eyes were wide open, staring at the ceiling. He looked terrified. It broke my heart. Despite all the pain and heartache he had caused us, despite the fact that he abandoned us, despite the fact that I had professed my utter hatred for him every chance I got - it was awful. I was so sad for him. I was so sad for me, for my sister, for my brother. This was it, we'd NEVER have a chance to reconcile with him - he'd never have a chance to make it up to us. I had to choose to either continue hating him, or to forgive him (sort of) and give myself some peace. I can remember just bursting into tears, and holding his hand. He couldn't speak. I was crying and said "Dad, I'm having a baby and I'm getting married" and he squeezed my hand. My father died that night.
My sister and I stood in line at the wake, my brother refused to even attend (he was just a kid - we had all been burned badly by that time). We were so uncomfortable, we hadn't been involved in his life since we were kids and we didn't know hardly anyone who came - and they didn't know us. It was just... weird. But one of my dad's old friends, they were so close we called him "uncle Mike" when we were kids, showed up. I don't think he had seen my father in a while, either - he was a cop and I'm sure my father distanced himself from those friends (he had a lot of cop friends when he was young) when he became an addict. But he must have seen how shell-shocked I looked, because he came right up to me and hugged me and said to me "Remember your dad when he was a good guy, Jenn, because he was." That meant a lot to me, to know that someone knew my dad when he was my dad.
Yesterday when I got home from a long, draining day, I opened the newspaper and saw the obituary for "uncle Mike." He was only 58 years old and it said that he died "peacefully in his sleep" so I don't know what happened. But I have to tell you, I fell apart. I have not seen this man in 16 years, and before that it had probably been at least 10. I was just sobbing, and I was surprised at the depth of my feelings until it dawned on me why it seemed to be affecting me so much. This man loved my father, and he was one of the only people left in this world who remembered my dad as a good guy. And damn it, 58 years old is just too young to die. His brother, who was another of my dad's good friends and had to have been close in age to them, had also just passed away in February of this year. That's just too much pain for one family, and it just seems so unfair. Also, I wish I had contacted him over the past 15 years - I wish I had a chance to talk to him about my father.
So rest in peace, uncle Mike, and if you see my father, please give him a hug from me and then a kick in the ass for being such an idiot. Peace.