If there’s one thing I’ve been conscious of, it’s being true to myself, and not trying to be or do what other people expect in such a situation. As a result, I’ve found that I have no significant feelings about my dad’s death. I felt sadder about Deidre losing her sunglasses Sunday night than I did about my dad dying.
This isn’t the same as being happy he’s gone, or that I hated him my whole life, as neither of those are true. I respected him for doing what he felt he needed to do, and accepted him as a human being that makes mistakes. That ‘mistakes’ bit has been relevent to the things I didn’t like about him in the past, but which I resolved over a decade ago when I took him off the ‘father’ pedestal and turned him into a normal person.
I’ve been sad in the past about how hard his life has been, and I think that I’m comfortable that he’s now at peace. My mum told me yesterday that two days before he died, he told her that he’d had a good life. I think he made his own peace with himself, and realised that he didn’t need to be here any more. He went home, and I can’t be sad about that.
People are sad for what they lose when someone dies. I’m happy that he had a good, long life, and so I’m not sad about him dying, or about what I lose. The years have separated me from any closeness with him, which is what people miss when someone that they’re ‘close to’ is gone forever.
Deidre’s sad that she didn’t have the opportunity to do more with him that she wanted to do, like join him at a country music festival in June this year. As a result, I’m sad for her loss. I’m sad for the loss that others are feeling about it.
As I explained to Deidre last night, I was never close to him. For around 15 years now, I’ve rarely caught up with him. For 6 years, from ’95 to ’01, there was no contact with my family at all. The xmas that’s just gone was the first xmas that we’ve all had together in 16 years. I wanted it to happen that way because I felt that we’d never get another opportunity again, and afterwards, I felt that I’d never see dad again either.
I think he also knew that. As we were leaving on xmas day, and we were saying our farewells all round, he gave me a look and a smile and said, “I’ll see you around sometime.”
I knew what he meant, but I replied, “I know – we’re coming back in 4 days, remember?”
We did catch up again in 4 days time, on Dec 29th, and it was an ‘ordinary’ time. We said our farewells again, as if we’d see each other again. But that wasn’t to be.
As I’m writing this, I’m wondering about his last moments. Is dying in your sleep something you just choose to do? Is it ‘just letting go’ and choosing not to hold onto life any more?
We all hold onto life, for one reason or another, until it’s taken away from us or we let it go.
Here is a test to find out whether your mission in life is complete. If you’re alive, it isn’t.
– Richard Bach
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