In honor of Father’s Day I’d like to share this poem written by my dearest friend in the whole world– a woman of whom I am so very proud!  She possesses a strength and courage I can only hope to have someday and has made such amazing progress in her recovery.  It is an honor to call her my friend. ❤

 

Dear Dad,

I wasn’t planning to send you a Father’s Day card (I don’t think Hallmark makes one that’s appropriate for you), but here I am, writing a letter to you just days before the day of fathers. Maybe it was the endless onslaught of Father’s Day-themed email I’ve been receiving all week. Perhaps the odd feeling I still get in the pit of my stomach when I hear the words “Dad”, “Father” and “Daddy” is to blame. Regardless of what sparked this fire- it’s burning now. So here is the closest thing to a Father’s Day card you will get from me.

Thank you, Dad,
for abandoning my mother
and five children you made
in favor of pursuing
the “real” love of your life,
but not before spending years
bathing your daughters
so thoroughly that I still wince
at the thought of Irish Spring
between my legs
and your hands,
not before you convinced me
that God and Grandpa
could see my naked body
just as you could.

Thank you, Dad,
for spending enough years
away from me
that I forgot what you
were really like,
for rescuing me from
the harmful hands of my step-dad
and replacing them
with your own,
for keeping me safely locked
in silence, secrecy and shame,
just as in the walls of your home.

Thank you, Dad,
for telling me that
you were in love with me,
that I was special,
that you wanted to give me
an orgasm.

Thank you, Dad,
for the pet names-
slut, bitch, whore.

Thank you, Dad,
for lying to me
about who I was protecting
with my silence,

Lastly,
Thank you, Dad,
for showing up
years later
when I called
to confront you,
for thanking me for
not having the police there (that wasn’t up to me),
for saying “I hope it didn’t screw you up
too bad.”

You see,
I’m strong.
I had to earn it.
You were a challenge,
a crisis,
a tragedy.
I overcame you.
I fight now
for the other daughters,
who have fathers to thank
for hurting them
until something inside them
breaks
and something else
is born.

Happy Father’s Day

I asked my dear friend Leashya to contribute to my blog with an entry about her own grief over the loss of her precious nephew, Christian, just 8 months after I lost Brian.  While we were very close before Christian’s death I believe we are now able to relate to one another on a whole new level in our shared grief and she understands me better than anyone else I know.  I’m so grateful for her and for her friendship.  With that I give you her beautiful words…

Irrational Death; Irrational Grief

It was some time after 10pm when my mom called. There was no “hello”, just a strained voice on the other end. “I don’t know if you still pray, but if you do, now’s the time.” Everything that followed was chaos. My mother’s words, choking out details like, “Christian was hurt in an accident”… “his heart stopped for thirty minutes”… “he’s going into surgery”… were interrupted by the cacophony of voices inside my head screaming “No!” and “This can’t be happening!” I remember yelling at my mother that Christian couldn’t die; he just couldn’t.

But he did.

Christian’s death broke the rules. He was 5. He was healthy. He was loved. He was well cared for. He was protected. He shouldn’t have died.

Driving the 15 hours to Arizona, I listened to Radiohead’s “How to Disappear Completely” on repeat. My incessant thoughts spiraled. My nephew was gone. My older nephew had witnessed the death of his little brother. My sweet, loving brother and sister-in-law were living through every parent’s worst nightmare- losing their child- and there was NOTHING I could do about it.

Death reminds us of how little control we really have. Death slaps us in the face with the harshest of realities: that we don’t get to keep everyone we love. Death is a thief.

Then there’s the grief that follows. Grief is often portrayed as sadness, but it’s so much more than that. Grief also looks like guilt, anger, depression, and insanity.

Grief is irrational.

After I returned to Austin, I hated my house. Each room held a mental photograph of the night Christian died: the kitchen where I answered my phone; the hallway where I sunk to the floor, sobbing over the phone with my mother; the bedroom where I heard the words, “He’s gone.” I was consumed with worry; I obsessed over the pain I could only imagine my brother and sister-in-law were in. I worried about my older nephew. I wondered if the whole family would break apart.

So, here’s where I get really uncomfortable sharing my feelings. I lost my nephew, but his parents lost their son, so who am I to express pain over my loss when, by it’s very nature, it must pale against the darkness of their pain?

Nevertheless, Christian’s death changed me. I cut ties with people I didn’t trust with my grief. I devoted myself more to family and to friends who feel like family.  I became hypersensitive to negativity- mostly because I usually feel like I’m barely holding on to the hope that is required to keep functioning in my life.

I also learned something. Grief is irrational. It cannot be measured or predicted or nicely packaged. It cannot be rushed or conveniently timed. It has to be allowed to be… irrational as it is.

christianus

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