I find it ironic that your cancer is what pushed us together as the end draws near. How much time do we have left? Three months? Six? More? Less? Every time I see you, your face has become more hollow. You can’t even sit in a chair comfortably anymore, because there’s no meat there. You are a walking skeleton that pushes away any help extended towards you. By “growing closer” I mean that I have seen you more in the past year than I have in my thirty-one years of life. How many times has it been since last July? Five or six, maybe. Five or six times we have been in the same room together, laughing at the same things. Five or six times in a year, which is more than I ever saw you before.
There’s no time left. Not when you shut us all out. How can their be dignity in dying alone? Whenever I ask you if you need anything, you tell me that you have everything you need – and yet there is nobody there to help you. When you eat, you throw up. When you take your medication, you become constipated. You refused chemo and radiation, and then when it got bad, you wanted it … but it was too late. Why are you so stubborn?
The other day I had chest pain from a pulled muscle. Rather than bothering my husband, I drove myself to the emergency room to be checked out. I laughed to myself because I had just jumped on your ass about going to the emergency room without letting anyone know. it made me sad to realize that I am so much like you, and yet I am just learning these small things that genetically, yet uniquely match us together.
I know that I like to write, like you do. I know that I’m stubborn and very introverted, like you are.
But I also know I am unlike you in so many ways. Unlike you and my mom, actually. I never abandoned my daughter. My grandmother (your own mom) lives with me and has for almost five years, because you wouldn’t let her live with you. I wouldn’t have it any other way, either. I’ve dedicated my life to healthcare so that I can have a small role in helping others. I’m not selfish in the love that I give to other people.
I forgave you years ago, though the pain has always lie dormant in the recesses of my heart. Your explanation of your abandonment was sufficient enough for you to have the forgiveness you needed before you passing, but a small part of me will never understand why I wasn’t good enough for you to want. You say you love me, and yet I feel nothing from you. What’s worse is that I feel nothing towards you. I feel sadness that you’re dying. I feel sadness that we have a small amount of time left, and yet you still won’t let me in. I feel even more abandoned than before. We have opportunity to spend every minute together that we can, and you still don’t want to. Why?
My handsome, introverted, selfish, stubborn father. How you have molded and shaped the person I am today just by simply not being there for me. I became stronger because of it. I learned what not to do. I learned that sometimes someone needs the forgiveness you aren’t sure you can give – but you give it anyway. Selflessness thinks of the other person, always. That’s what I have done. When you die, you will be able to go knowing that I don’t blame you for the choices you made in regard to me. You will die knowing that I will be okay, and that I will take care of your mother until she dies. When you die, you will leave behind a lot of unanswered questions because of your refusal to open up to any of us.
And somehow, we will all still be less, because of your absence.