There are some things you should probably know about me.
1) I have a slightly dark sense of humor. OK, a REALLY dark sense of humor. But not all the time. Just like, 15-20% of the time. Maybe 25. But definitely no more than 30% tops.
2) I find myself hilarious. I spent a couple of hours yesterday rereading my own blog and cracking up over and over again. And cringing. A lot of oversharing goes on in my blog. and it’s allllll in print. But this one post, “Put the FUN Back in FUNeral!” actually gave me the chills to read over again. It’s slightly irreverent, but touching and it reminded me that I really miss my dad. Even more than missing him, I feel guilty for not missing him more than I do. I’m so caught up with daily life that I honestly can’t say, “there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about him.” Not even close. In fact, I don’t think about him nearly every day. At least not consciously, or in some wistful, reminiscent way. Usually I’m just too preoccupied with life. But sometimes it hits me like a ton of bricks and I feel incredibly sad.
When that happens, I ALSO feel guilty for how much I DO miss him. I feel like I have to minimize my pain because I know my mom and sisters had it way worse. He was my mom’s husband for goodness sake and my sisters were still living at home, a junior in high school and an 8th grader at the time. At least I was an adult, already out of the house with a family of my own. But I was floored by how it threw me for a loop. I absolutely did not expect the death of a parent to hurt THAT MUCH. When he died I felt a literal and unbearable physical pain. And the fact that life wasn’t always perfect and that I had regrets made it so much worse. I remember wishing I was in a coma so I wouldn’t have to feel anymore.
3) I may not ever NOT be bitter about him being gone. Even though it’s been 11 years and I go days or weeks without even a thought of it, sometimes I’m blindsided by the anger and bitterness upon hearing people talk about their dads. Oh THEY have a dad. Why do they deserve a dad and I don’t? They’re like 60 years old and they still have a dad? Not fair!
My sister used to send me a sardonic “happy dad’s dead day!” greeting every January 18th. He was only 47 and died suddenly. Like, instantaneously. So it was pretty traumatic and I think all of us are still processing it. No premonitions, no time to say goodbye, no last words, no mental preparation, no explanation or even comprehension. We had people over when my mom called to tell me. I kept repeating over and over, “Wait, dad’s dead. He’s dead. Dad. He’s dead. Dead. Dad. MY dad.” No matter how many times my mouth said it, my brain didn’t get it. She only found out a few hours after the fact because my grandpa called her saying my dad was at the hospital. He wasn’t “at the hospital.” He had collapsed on the treadmill at the gym where he went every single day. It’s actually kind of hilarious (there’s my dark sense of humor). The last call on his cell phone was to a radio talk show like 5 minutes before he was pronounced dead. I guess it’s not like in the movies where you faint gracefully and breathe out one last gentle, “tell my family I love them…” I imagine this was more like, “Of COURSE we need the government to spend less, are you guys insane?! Plop.” Or maybe it was awesome and looked something like this:
Yeah, I’m pretty sure that was it.
4) Ultimately though, I have hope in the future. I believe firmly in an afterlife. I wish my kids had gotten to know my dad, but I know he knows them. I’m pretty sure he’s watching them from heaven and whenever they make some offensive, ridiculous joke he says, “yup, that’s definitely my progeny!” And as J-Dog said at the time (when he was barely 3 years old), “well then, why are you crying? You’ll see him again in heaven!”