Grief is like the ocean;
It comes in waves,
Ebbing and flowing.
Sometimes the water is calm,
And sometimes it is overwhelming.
All we can do is learn to swim.
Last week began with an anniversary.
The anniversary of my fathers death.
I try to ignore it. Every year I try to pretend it isn’t happening.
Yesterday I cried.
Even after all this time, I still feel so much.
The first few years, it was anger. Anger at him for never being the father that I needed him to be, the man that I needed him to be.
Anger at the fact that because of the choices he made, and the effect that had on our lives, that I will always feel more at home among dysfunction.
Anger that I never had walks in the park holding hands with my dad.
Anger that I never had a dad’s comforting arms to run to when I’d had a bad day at school.
Anger that I never heard I love you, I’m proud of you, or I’m sorry.
Anger that my childhood memories are all tainted with pain and fear instead of being filled with love and laughter.
What followed was guilt.
Guilt at all the feelings of anger. Guilt at the relief I felt for an end to all of the years of misery and abuse. Guilt at the feeling of peace from the fear, the unhappiness, the tumult of life before.
As I grew, I began to understand the importance of forgiveness, of letting go. I did both.
Every year though, around this time, an ache resurfaces.
Not anger, not hatred, not disappointment or guilt, but an ache for what might have been.
Maybe he’d have changed.
Maybe he’d have realised how much he had hurt us all.
Maybe he’d have started to try.
Maybe we could have repaired our relationship and he could have made up for all of the years of our childhoods that he took from us.
Maybe he’d have told me how much he loved me, that he was proud of me, that he always had been but never knew how to show it.
Maybe I’d have been able to call him for advice. For a dad’s perspective on life.
Maybe he’d have come to stay some weekends. Maybe he’d have played with the puppies and spent hours sitting with and listening to the kids.
Maybe we’d have been able to have dinner dates and he’d catch me up on the goings on of his small town and his company.
Maybe I’d have been able to send him daily photos of the boys, and we’d laugh about how mischievous they are. Maybe he’d have told me how much like me they are, or how much like him as a child they are.
Maybe he’d have told me all the funny stories about his childhood that I never got to hear.
And then, every year I cry. Because I’ll never know.
I’ll never know if he’d have taken the chance I was so willing to give.
I’ll never know what could have been.
I’ll never know if he’d have approved of the man I love. If one day he’d have given him his blessing to ask me to marry him.
I’ll never know if he’d cry on my wedding day when he saw me in my dress, and then squeeze my hand as we walked down the aisle so I didn’t cry too.
I’ll never know if he’d have whispered that I look perfect, or that he couldn’t be happier to be there beside me.
I’ll never know what song he’d have chosen for our father daughter dance.
I’ll never know what kind of grandfather he’d have been. If it could have made up for all the years he wasn’t the father he should have been.
I’ll never hear the speeches he’d have given at any of my special occasions. The ones I hear other dads give at their daughters events and envy with all of my soul.
They say time is an amazing healer. It’s been 10 years and November is still the month my heart aches.
For the might have been’s I lost the day we got that phone call.
For the answers I’ll never have, the reassurance he’ll never be able to give, for the father daughter relationship I always longed for. That might have been, if we’d just had more time..
I loved him, even at his worst.
I just wish it had been enough to make him better.