Dad’s 20th Anniversary

I don’t have enough memories of you. A childhood rife with play and imagination wasn’t enough to keep you here. I wish I’d used that mind to conjure up a father who stayed. Who would you be at night when I was in sweats from nightmares?Or maybe I wouldn’t get nightmares anymore, if you were around. Daddy to the rescue. All the films say so, how dad’smake everything better. I wouldn’t know. Mom tried. She did. She does. Every damn day, before and after you left us. And you did leave, didn’t you? It was a choice, and then it was made final. 

I’ve thought about how if you hadn’t died, maybe you could have come back to us. You weren’t the best person in the world, but time turns things on its head. You could have changed. I like to believe you would have. But maybe people don’t really ever change. 

What am I even talking about anymore?

I guess it all comes down to this: my relationship with you is complicated. How can I get closure from a ghost? The dead tell no tales, they say. So how have I learned more from you since your death, than I knew before? I’ve no way of testing their words, of course. The whispers of people who claim to know your history. No way of knowing if my own assumptions are truth.

I think there comes a time in everyone’s life when you just make a decision. When you can’t get answers, you write the narrative yourself. You are the author who decides what your story means. How it can end. What have I decided? I’ve decided you were a complicated man. Your relationship with Mom was, too. But I know you loved us. With all your flaws, that was never in question. I think if you hadn’t died, you would love us now, tenfold, in your own way. And I don’t know how often I’d see you, or what we’d do together, but you’d call me ‘Sian’ and I’d feel comforted by the sound of it. You would be my dad, and for me that might mean something different to my friends. But what would that matter? 

Is having a dad better than having only a memory? The word dad wouldn’t carry so much weight. Father’s Day wouldn’t be a day of contemplation. 13th May wouldn’t mean anything to me. There would be no raw, exposed nerve inside of me, waiting to be plucked. No crying in the shower when I remember the things you’ve missed in my life.

You won’t walk me down the aisle.

You won’t hold your grandchildren.

You won’t cheer at my book signings.

You won’t know me at all.

Maybe you’re watching from wherever you are. Maybe you’re here, next to me, screaming as you try to answer my questions. Maybe you’re gone for good. Either way, I know Mom is there to shoulder the weight that you can’t carry. She’ll walk with me wherever I go. She will hold your grandchildren twice as long. She will cheer twice as loud as anyone else. She will know me for both of you.

And that is enough.

Rest in more than peace. Rest in joy. Rest knowing that I’m okay now. 

I’m okay, Dad.

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