“Saying goodbye doesn’t mean anything. It’s the time we spent together that matters, not how we left it.”
— Trey Parker
I never said goodbye.
I had a chance to, but I didn’t.
Personally, I feel there is very little point in talking to someone in a coma. I don’t think they can hear you, especially when you know they’re not going to wake up.
He didn’t even look like my dad anymore.
He hadn’t for awhile, actually.
The dad I knew was big and overweight and strong and had black hair and a big smile full of teeth.
What glimpses I had had of him over the past couple years were of a smaller dad, frail and toothless and with bleached blonde, thinning hair.
I never knew my dad as an adult.
All my memories of him (the good ones, anyway) are of a SuperDad, who could open any pickle jar, who could lift the TV onto the shelf, and who was funny and silly and was good at voices and accents.
There’s a time in everyone’s life where (if you had at least decent parents) you realize that your parents aren’t perfect. That they are human just like everyone else and have fears and flaws and imperfections. Usually this realization comes when you’re becoming a teenager and you begin to push back against their boundaries and their rules, noticing what no longer applies to you, to your culture. Resentment and bitterness tend to accompany this, hence the typical “rebellion.” But then you grow out of that stage too, either with actual time passing or just gradual maturation. You see your parents as fellows — persons to still respect and appreciate and perhaps even obey — but people who are on the same life journey as you. You’re just starting, but you know they have knowledge to help you and you, too, can help them. Perhaps you will never be friends, but they remain loved ones.
I know my mom like this, as a fellow adult. I never knew my dad.
I cut him out of my life because of many reasons, the most basic being that I didn’t want to be hurt anymore.
(was that wrong?)
I also didn’t want him to hurt my family anymore.
I didn’t have much control over that; my siblings would still see him.
But they never knew him like I knew him.
They never knew the daddy that I knew.
They knew someone else.
Perhaps I should’ve said goodbye to that person.
Perhaps I should’ve said goodbye to the dad I did know. Maybe he was really there the whole time.
I’ll never know.
It’s still hard to believe he’s gone. It’s one thing to have an absent father, it’s another to have a dead one.
We all went to the hospital to say goodbye. I didn’t have any words.
We all went to the memorial service afterward. I wasn’t given the opportunity to say anything.
In the new year, we will have the urn of his ashes and say goodbye for a final time.
Will I have anything to say then?
Will I say goodbye?
Is that what this is? Is that why I’m writing?
I don’t know.
I’ve stopped crying, and it doesn’t hurt anymore.
I think I’ve moved on.
I think I’m okay now.
I think I’ve even forgiven him.
But I never did say goodbye.
If you read this whole thing, thank you for taking the time to do so. I know it’s a bit of a downer and it’s not actually a story, but every time I read the prompt for this week, this is the only thing I kept thinking of. Perhaps I just needed to get it out.
I do hope that 2017 is a heckuva lot better than this year, that’s for sure!