The last time I sat down to write was when I wrote my father’s eulogy.
I used to be a pretty prolific writer. I scribbled notes on scraps of paper and jotted down thoughts in the notes app on my iPhone and kept my Tumblr like a diary.
And then my dad died.
I think that I was waiting until I had something profound or meaningful to say about my dad dying. But here’s the side of loss no one talks about: I didn’t get any parting words or grand affirmations of love. He just died. I don’t feel his presence watching over me; that’s what loss truly feels like. It’s hurt me more than it’s pushed me to be better; try getting up at 3pm, try forgetting to eat, try cutting off all your friends and family. He wasn’t brave or wise at the end of it all, he was scared. I didn’t learn any lessons from his death that I couldn’t have read out of a book or learned with time. Sometimes, death is just sad. Nothing more.
Do you want to know what grief looks like? It’s still having his number saved as “dad” and hanging up whenever you get to his voicemail. It’s avoiding the street you used to live on and the home where he died. It’s having dreams about his coffin and crying on your way to work and beating yourself up for not remembering his voice. That's something they don't tell you either -- that you'll forget. It’s throwing away the white shirt you wore to his funeral. It’s going grocery shopping and remembering some obscure thing he said once about fruit and feeling paralyzed in aisle 2. It’s punishing yourself, it’s regret, it’s guilt, it’s self-loathing, it’s forgetting and remembering and hating yourself when you forget to remember.
Loss isn’t this grand show of a thing. People don’t see it. It creeps into your life in quiet ways. You carry your grief in your bones and mourn for the person you could have been without it.
And so, the words of wisdom never really came. I think that I didn’t want them to, because that would mean that I had accepted his dying when I clearly hadn’t. Writing about my dad’s death felt dirty. It felt like moving on. It felt like healing.
For the longest time, I numbed myself to my dad’s death and refused to face the trauma of his memory. My dad’s death was a wound that I closed off the day of his funeral and picked at only in private. I couldn’t write about it because I felt obligated to end whatever I wrote on a note of resolve and optimism, when in reality I felt jaded, hollow, and empty. Death doesn’t make for good writing. Not unless you spin it a thousand different ways, all of which are far from how you really feel. But then I realized: I needed to write for me, not for anyone else. So, here’s to writing about how a 200-pound man lost sixty pounds and thirty years of his life within the time span of a month. Here’s to having a shitty relationship with your dad your entire life and writing about a father-daughter relationship that got worse with disease instead of better. Here’s to writing about the memory of your ten-year-old sister yelling at him to wake up. Here’s to holding his hand on his deathbed and thinking, “If I had known, I would have done it more often”. Here’s to a thousand “If I had known”’s. Here’s to all the ways my trauma isn’t pretty or romantic, just torture.
I started this blog because I think that I am finally at a point where I want to get better. Ironically, I reached this point after I had a moment where I was in a place of such suffering and despair that I wanted to die. I wasn’t ready to write about my dad’s death for a long time because I wasn’t ready to stop hurting, to stop punishing myself, to stop subjecting myself to a suffering that was private and lonely. I needed to want to name, articulate, and feel my grief in ways that weren’t self-deprecating. I needed an outlet for my grief that wasn’t self-sabotage. I needed to want to bring light into the dark times that nobody sees and to take the weight off of my heartache after years of neglect. I needed to want to heal.
Here’s to old wounds. Here’s to healing them.