Monday, March 12, 2012
Eight years ago, standing in a darkened kitchen in New Jersey with my friend Jodi. I got a phone call that forever changed every single thing about my life. My dad had died. He died unexpectedly, yes. But it was not an accident or a sudden fatal illness. He left by choice. He chose it. I collapsed to the floor upon hearing the words that I simultaneously didn't believe but still knew to be true. Somewhere deep down, I'd been waiting for it.
The circumstances leading up to and surrounding his death are still open wounds, things I rarely talk about to anyone. They are extremely complicated and messy, and I try to make no place for them in my mind. It could easily consume me. But there was a lot of things in his past that had made me think that one day he'd make this very choice.
Most of the time I think that I have accepted what happened. Understood it? No. But accepted, yes. I rarely get angry about it or at him for his choice anymore. But sometimes when I'm not paying attention, the anger seeps in. His physical absence over the last 5 months has been glaring and has felt heavier than it has in years. I think it is partly due to things like the picture above. This is all she will ever know of him. And that is such shame. He adored kids, and they adored him.
I still pick up the phone to tell him how my heart is breaking about my baby girl, to gush about some silly likeness that he and Brandon share, to ask him a question that only he'd know the answer to...I don't suppose the reflex to do that will ever go away. And I kind of wish it would
Sometimes, like the other night, Brandon will bring him up and ask me questions about him, his past, his personality, his death and my heart will ache a little for days. We were all so cheated. The injustice of the whole situation is devastating.
I always think about him. He left a wound that won't ever fully heal. He left a lot of people who loved him, and loved him fiercely. I try to remember the very good of a very flawed man, and believe me...there was A LOT of good. I know spiritually he is always with me. He didn't leave me to completely abandon me. I know this to be true. But I still want him here.
I still need him.
*My dad was diagnosed with Bi-Polar disorder in 1996, a deeply crippling mental illness that most people do not understand, that a lot of people joke about, and even more who won't acknowledge it with any real kind of validation. I cannot imagine the kind of personal hell he lived in every single day of his life. It is serious, and it is deadly. Please, get help.
*If you or someone you know is showing signs of suicide, PLEASE reach out to someone. Your doctor, a stranger, me, ANYONE. 1-800-273-8255