Sunday, July 19, 2009

Letters from Dad

When my brother was here last month, he brought me some things that he had put in storage after Dad died. It is a mixture of childhood items of mine that Dad was storing for me as well as some of Dad's things that my brother decided I might wish to or should have.

The boxes have been sitting in my entryway for a little over a month now and Thursday night, I decided to start going through one of them. In it, I found a something Dad had entitled "Letter to Myself." It was basically a short journal that he wrote not long after my mom left him. There were two more of these-another journal for himself and a letter he wrote my ex-step-monster after they separated.

As I realized what they were, I thought maybe I shouldn't read them, but let's face it. I am one of the nosiest people on the planet. So, of course I read them and I am glad that I did, especially the ones about my mother.

Ever since James died, more than anything, I have just wanted my daddy to make it all better-after all, that is what daddy's do, right? I just want him to talk to-to tell me what to do now and how to do it. I have wondered how he would have reacted-would he have been comforting, or would he have basically told me to "walk it off" or both-comforting at first but now that it has been over a year, be telling me I should be over it?

In the first letter, his pain and devastation is so apparent. Parts of it were heartbreaking to read-this is a side of my dad I never saw. And then it dawned on me, when Mom left, Dad was only 2 years younger than I was when James died. It's funny that intellectually, I have always known that Dad was in his 30's at some point, but I have never thought about what my parents' lives were like at certain ages compared to my life at the same time frame.

I saw a lot of myself in these letters. The raw emotion, the pen not being able to keep up with the thoughts, the random tangents. I feel like I learned a few things about my dad that explained things about myself. Emotionally, I am more like my dad than I ever would have guessed. This both comforts and scares me. It comforts me because some of the things he wrote really spoke to me and I now know where some of my traits and habits come from. It scares me because after Mom, he married the first person that came along. And after that marriage ended, he did the same thing again. I have been afraid for awhile now that I will settle for the first person that comes along and convince myself that I am happy when deep down I know I am not (I can't say this is what Dad experienced; it is what I fear for myself).

The first letter states it had been 3 weeks and he should be over it-that getting over the death of a close friend or loved one takes less time, so I think I would have gotten the "walk it off" attitude, which is actually how I felt all along. After all, this is the man who asked me about a year before I met James what was wrong with me that I couldn't attract a man. My response to that was "you and Mom should have made me better looking." Tenderness was not exactly his style. But there was also some good advice among his words, some of which I have heard from others, but that I needed to hear from my dad. And I do feel I have a better understanding as to why I have felt he is the parent that can better give me the emotional support I need.

For months, I have just wanted to be able to talk all this over with him and now, in a small way, I feel that I have. I'm still trying to process how I feel about it-it was kind of overwhelming.

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