Four years ago today my father, Jim, died at age 72. I didn’t know about it. No one called, no one wrote, they wouldn’t know how to reach me even if they wanted to and trust me, they didn’t want to. When he died it had been a decade since the last time we saw each other, the last time we talked. A decade since I walked out declaring “I don’t need this shit!” then cried on Gil’s sofa for two solid days. Despite this, despite the fact that our relationship had always been fraught, always been brusque, when I found about his passing (a year later) I was deeply hurt. When he was alive there was always the promise of possibility. The relationship however broken still had the exiguous potential to be mended. Improbable I know, but I don’t think that daughters ever stop dreaming that some day they might be Daddy’s little girl; even when those daughters are 37 years old and Daddy is … Jim.
Death means that door is closed forever and I have to let go of my Disney fueled dream of a grand reunion.
Death means that the music for our closing credits isn’t going to be Linda Ronstadt & Jame Ingram singing Somewhere Out There but will remain always and forever Johnny Cash covering Trent Reznor’s Hurt.
Death takes any opportunity for an apology, his or mine, off the table, and trust me, we both had lot’s to apologize for.
So he is gone and I wasn’t there for him, like we were never there for each other and I feel his absence more now in his passing than I ever did when he was alive. But strangely, and perhaps irrationally, I also feel much more at peace with him and closer to him. I find myself talking to him, as I have my mother in the 31 years she has been gone. I believe that somehow in death he has found the peace and comfort (and sobriety) he could never find when he was alive. I believe that despite our many failings as father and daughter that he loved me in his own way, that he would want what is best for me and that from his lofty perch in heaven he is looking out for me. I truly believe that all the anger and mistrust and crust gets shed with the mortal coil.
Tonight I lit a candle for him and I prayed, for myself, for lost opportunities, and for him because at the end of the day he was my father, he was also, someone’s friend, someones uncle, brother, cousin and once a upon a time before he was anything else he was someones sweet faced baby boy and I think it’s important we remember that everyone used to be someone’s baby.