Friday, January 19, 2007

On what would have been my father's birthday

"I don't know how to exist in a world where my Dad doesn't."

Those were the words last night of the character, George, on the television show, "Grey's Anatomy" after the death of his father. His father had been permanently comatose, cancer-laden and post-surgery, as his family disconnected his life support and he slipped from this life into the next.

My father died a bit over a year ago, and yesterday would have been his 87th birthday.

Now, perhaps you are waiting for the inevitable grief comparison in which I tell you that George's grief is like my own, as I go on tenderly, and at great length, about my father's death.

That is not going to happen.

Did I feel sad at the TV show? Yes. Did I weep? Yes. I cried big, fat, wet tears, not because I grieved, but because I did not.

The last year has not been one in which I missed my father, or in which my world felt horribly reduced because of his absence. I wish it did. For if it did, it would have pointed to a relationship far more gentle and loving than the one I had with him.

My father was not an evil man. And I am sure, by his definition, that he loved me.

But he was a damaged man, a man who could never admit a mistake, and who always sought to criticize and blame. The same man who had been a positive and loving presence in my early childhood turned brutal and at times even savagely cruel as I developed and grew. He had been the abused child of two alcoholic parents. So he came to fatherhood with some critical pieces inside him missing or broken. I'm not going to list his faults, or catalogue what I feel as my life injuries, because it would be unfair to do so. And foolish. The man is dead. He cannot reply.

But this year has not been like the year after losing my Mom, who was a source of unconditional love. It has been a year of missing the fact that I do not miss my father. That when people tell me that they are sorry for my loss, I inwardly wonder why, and how my life might had been different if this was a great loss, if my father had not made me so often the stunned object of his scathing rage. There. I have said it. Out loud. In front of God and everybody. I do not miss my father.

On Grey's Anatomy the character Christine says "There is a club. It is called the People with Dead Fathers Club".

Well, it looks as though I am a member, but I stand on the periphery, looking in at those who are grieving -- wondering what that might have felt like.


Anonymous Evelyn said...

Oh, Mata......... of course you don't miss him. I was raised by a rage-aholic stepmother (and I, being 5 years old when she entered my life - was quite often the object of her wrath) and a father who emotionally deserted his children when he married her. I cannot imagine missing either one of them. Now, when my dear uncle died, I wept and wept. He showed me unconditional love, and that love was priceless!

Know that you're not alone........ I'm sure I'll be a "non-grieving" member of that club when the time comes.

I pray that the pain and grief of "not grieving" will be eased for you soon.

11:37 PM  
Blogger Mata H said...

Evelyn -- Thank you so much. I am sorry that we share a similar childhood. How lucky we both were to have (I, in my mother and you in your uncle) people who did unconditionally love us. That and my faith have seen me through. May you also be seen through when the time comes. -- Mata

1:28 AM  
Blogger The Harbour of Ourselves said...

this is a most moving and personal blog. incredibly courageous to share it mata - the pain of not grieving, i think, is greater than that of loss.


ps, our father's share the same birthday, hmmm

5:24 AM  
Blogger Jayne said...

We can only feel what we feel, and embrace the truth of that, even if it's not how we think we should feel. I suppose it would be how Meredith would feel as well if it had been Thatcher... Hugs to you friend, and a HAPPY BIRTHDAY with all my love! ;c)

6:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mata - my mother - feeling betrayed by her husband, my father - successfully did her very best to estrange me from him, taught me to consider being his daughter a fault of mine and an unforgivable one as well. So it was she who received all my love, him, and what was "his" in me, I got to despise. I did not know any better.

Decades later I feel sorry for and grateful to both of them. And, indulging in fantasies I do not really believe in, imagine the joy I might experience if I met them just once more in that after-life I don't believe in either.

turnover from beliefnet

10:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My dad was killed when I was only 13. today I am 69 and he is still the most missed person in my life. We cannot control our feelings or the things that cause us to love or not love a person. I still feel hurt that my mother did not love him as much as I did but she had her own problems to deal with, these were not a problem to me, he was my rock! I do understand your feelings. Hope your birthday was great.

3:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm still caught in the middle of an emotionally abusive situation with one of my parents and at brave moments I try and visit a time in the future. Thank you very much for sharing

2:31 PM  
Blogger Ellie Finlay said...

I get it. Before my mother died, I wished her dead and when she finally did die, I was relieved. She was rejecting and abusive - both emotionally and physically and she poured out all the rage she had toward my absent father on me because I was there and I reminded her of him.

I am just glad that I have had in my own life the opportunity to do the kind of inner work my parents either refused to do or didn't know how to do. I am now a happy person - to my great astonishment because I once thought that was truly impossible.

4:33 PM  

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