One year. One year since my world permanently altered with the news of my father’s death. Grieving took on many faces for me over the last 365 days. I was not prepared for the finality of it all…the permanence of his absence. Looking back, the shock of my new reality was surreal. I floated through those first few weeks in a haze of jumbled mixed emotions; anger and bitterness masking the exquisite pain lying in wait just below the surface. When I finally surrendered my anger to the pain, it washed over me, drowning me in sadness. There was no bargaining or denial or depression, just wave upon wave of deep aching penetrating loss. To integrate back into normal life seemed silly. Everything was trivial in the wake of what I just experienced. I didn’t want the world to keep spinning. Everything and everyone desperately needed to stop so I could process this pain, this agony. But the world kept going, oblivious to my mind’s internal protests, and after a few months, as expected, the sympathy and acknowledgment of his death waned and faltered. I couldn’t let it go, let him go; and so I dug. I wanted to know who my father was, deep down…beyond the masks he so carefully crafted. I needed understanding. I needed a small piece of him I could keep with me, keep alive; for him and for me.
As I started to gain insight into my dad and my mind received the clarity I yearned for, his absence became more marked and more painful. Only then did the regret sink in. I could finally clearly and truly see him for who he was, and he wasn’t there to share in this epiphany. I couldn’t apologize for my lack of understanding, my lack of information. I couldn’t tell him how I understood how hard it must have been for him. I couldn’t tell him how much I loved him and how proud I was of him, and it broke me a little…but it also ushered in new enlightenment not only regarding him, but also me. I could not have predicted the knowledge or insight I’ve gained over these 365 days. I am still incredulous with how my life has changed as a result of seeking dad out. It was our first and last journey together. I know him and understand him now in ways I did not think possible. It is my piece of him I can keep with me, and I am so grateful.
And although it still hurts, and the void is still there, permanently…demanding acknowledgement; and the acute pangs of grief still smack me suddenly, unexpectedly at weird moments, it is…better? It’s been a year of immense pain and heartache, yes…but also of tremendous growth and insight. I have closure and peace and I know he is with me whispering he loves me, and he is proud of the person I have become.