Just a year ago, my dad called and told me that he had cancer. The word "terminal" never really made it out of his mouth, but when your tough-guy daddy starts talking about how he's had a long life and so on, you get the drift. Actually, I knew it was bad when he actually placed the phone call himself, since my father never did that for probably the same strange reason he would never actually operate a microwave.
Six weeks later, he slipped away.
Now since then, we have muddled through every succeeding day. Many of you have helped me more than I can express with words of support and sympathy, and, unfortuntely, in some cases, personal experience of your own.
But there is one area of my life that has not been, let us say, helpful. I now want to say this as gently as possible, just because I am afraid I am going to explode completely if I don't vent somewhere.
Just because I have not had to self-medicate myself into a stupor in the past year does not mean I am not hurting. I personally think that doing these kinds of things makes your pain far, far worse, and who needs this to be any worse than it already is?
Just because I have not held conversations with my dead father's eidolon or visitant or haint or whatever you want to call it does not mean that I am not just as authentically in mourning as you are. Furthermore, I do not want to hear about how you commune with his apparition or huddle over an Ouija board-- this is just not something in which I believe. So, for the love of God, would you please stop blathering on and on about this, because it is making me absolutely tense, and it sounds completely nuts.
Now, you may wonder why I am not just speaking to the people who are bothering me in person. Fair enough.
Because you never ask me how I am doing, nor are you interested. I am supposed to sit here and absorb all your problems and sorrow and vile emotional crap, and when I try to actually converse about my life or how I am feeling, you change the subject righhhhht back to yourself or the other members of the family and how they are incredibly troubled or annoying or hurtful, or how they are to blame for all of your problems. I am tired of listening-- can't say "talking"-- about death all the time. And just because you are in mourning too doesn't mean that I am going to let you play the "I loved him more than you did and that's why I get a moral pass to treat everyone else like garbage" steeplechase. Every time you tell me some vicious thing about someone else in the family, all I can think of is, "I wonder what you say about me behind my back?" Just because you have taken up a long sojourn in Crazy Town doesn't win you a trophy in the great Sweepstakes of Sorrow, either. I have tried not to be judgemental about this. But this is not a competition. What makes it even worse is what little family we had has come completely unglued and everyone is taking turns attacking each other, and just one flailing, drowning person can pull everyone else in the water under.
It is just not my way to fall apart for days or weeks or years on end or behave irrationally or slide into a deep depression. You don't know when I have sobbed or screamed or gotten angry. Someone had to keep it together. Decisions had to be made, and things had to be done. Fine. It's perfectly normal to fall apart, though, and I understand why you have. I just would like to see you accept my way of mourning as equally valid and my pain as equally real as yours. Just because I manage to put one foot in front of the other and haltingly navigate through each day doesn't mean that you should discount my sorrow, or think that I don't think about my dad several times a day. We all of us had a complex relationship with dad because he was a complex figure-- so working through that presents itself in a myriad of bizarre ways that back up on you at the most unexpected times.
I truly believe that my Dad is no longer in pain, and he was in pain long before he got cancer. I believe that his soul is freed. Everyone dies, and I believe that there is something after this life, but even if there's not, it doesn't change the fact that everybody dies. He was not a perfect person, by far, but then again none of us is a perfect person, by far. The thing that is the most difficult for me is that I will never speak to him again-- not even in hallucinations. He was the one person in the family who actually listened to me, on occasion. But I wouldn't want him to be back here with as much as he was suffering.
Everybody hurts. Everyone.