Grief is new to me. I really have not had that much experience with it in my life, up until now. I have had grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends die, but I have never experienced this level of grief before. It is confusing based on my relationship with my dad. He was not my “best friend,” and I cringe when other people say that, because for me it’s an unbelievable concept. To say “he raised me” would be generous. And I get annoyed when other people say, “He just did the best he could.” It may be true, but it feels like bullshit.
But he was my dad and I only had one. As it was explained to me by a wise old friend, there is a bond between a father and son. And this friend went on to say that even though his dad was abusive to him when he was growing up, it was still hard on him when he died. He missed his dad terribly. This is how I feel; though my Dad was not abusive, he was neglectful, which is a different side of the same coin.
I guess going through this is a rite of passage. The memorial for my Dad is happening at the end of this week, and by the end of June, I will become a father. At 51, I am coming of age. This is either pretty sad or pretty humorous, but not surprising, since I am a late bloomer.
Grief is not one emotion, but an umbrella of many. I have felt sadness, anger, fear and anxiety or combination of them. They are unpredictable and intense. There are also long stretches of time you want to be alone. Returning a phone call or reading the paper seems impossible. Sometimes you want to be around people and sometimes you want to kill them.
There are short patches of time where you are focused, like now, as I try to write this blog, but most of the time, I am not on the same frequency as the rest of the world. I am tuned out, flaky and annoyed. It’s been four weeks since he died, and I thought by this point I would be back to writing about improv, but as you can see, I’m not.
Some of my feelings don’t come up as easily. They are trapped deep down there, like those coal miners from Chile who were waiting to be rescued.
Others, like anger, come right to the surface, like when I’m in traffic or in line with the slow cashier at the CVS. And still others need to be tricked to come up, like sadness by watching Titanic with my wife where we both cried and I got a new appreciation for James Cameron.
However they come up, I am glad when they do because I feel better for the time being.
This Saturday is the memorial for my dad, and I am planning to speak at the service, and hopefully avoid the drama of my family. The last time I spoke to my brother about the eulogy, he wanted all of us five kids to speak no more than two minutes about our dad. That is impossible and crazy. When I talked to my dad about speaking at his funeral months ago he asked that I be funny and not portray him as a saint. I believe I can do at least one of those things.
God speed Dad, God speed. I miss you. Love your son.