My dad

It’s 3:30 in the morning and I am wide awake (and sad) thanks to a very real dream. Dreamed that I was opening mail, wondering why I hadn’t heard from my dad since I moved 4 months ago. I was in the middle of writing a letter to him (in the dream) when I realized he has been dead for 5 years now (in real life). The dream me was so depressed that I called people crying and no one cared. Well not so much people, as it was just my ex-husband. But still. Very depressing.

Maybe the box of letters from him that my mom recently sent me, from the good part of our relationship, is bothering my subconscious, as he and I later had a falling out, didn’t speak for a few years, then he got cancer and died.

There is some comforting divine intervention in the story though. I was prompted to send him a letter apologizing for my side of the argument and subsequent silent treatment and letting him know I forgave him for his side of things. We were better at written communication than verbal at that point.

We established a truce of sorts, but the relationship was never the same. Shortly thereafter my dad, who ate healthy and ran three miles a day, became ill with cancer. He lived in Texas, and I was raising two babies in Virginia. So we spoke on the phone sporadically, but it was hard to really know what to say.
One conversation stands out to me because it was towards the end, and he knew how ill he really was. My dad, who I had never seen or heard cry in my entire life, started crying on the phone, because being so close to death made him realize his regrets in life, namely what happened between us. We had always been very close, had similar personalities and he was the only person to truly understand me. And vice versa. And we ruined that closeness with a selfish argument that neither one of us had the skill at the time to resolve.

Soon after the tearful conversation, I received a call from a former co-worker in Texas letting me know that it was probably the end, and that I needed to come. So I woke up my small children and put them in the car, and together with my then husband, began the drive.

Near the Carolinas my husband was talking on the phone to my dad, letting him know we were hurrying as fast as we could. They were disconnected, and when my husband called back, a nurse answered and told him that my dad had been in a coma, and was very surprised to hear that he had answered his room phone and held a conversation. A short period of time later, I received a call on my cell phone from my stepmom who I had not been on good terms with for years. I didn’t know she even had my number. She put the phone to my dad’s ear, as she thought he had been in a coma the whole time too, and must have been out of the room earlier.

He wasn’t able to speak to me, but I was able to finally tell him how truly sorry I was about everything, and that I was sorry he’d never met his grandchildren, but that I understood if it was time for him to go, and wanted him to be out of pain finally. I was crying so hard that I could barely speak by that point, but my stepmom told me to keep talking, because it was the first response she’d seen from him in a long time. Finally, I knew there was nothing more for me to say, so I told him I love him and hung up. Less than 10 minutes later he died.

It’s been five years since that day, and talking about it is still so painful that it feels like it happened yesterday. But it’s a story that needs to be told. There’s a lot of forgiveness there, both human and divine, but also a painful reminder to be careful with the words I use, and how I treat people, as they could be the last words I ever get to speak with that person. I am still trying to convince myself that he did truly forgive me, and forgiving myself continues to be a work in progress.

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