When your parent leaves you, for good.

IMG_1272
My siblings and I spreading Dad’s ashes at the Grand Canyon.

When I first sat down to start writing this blog entry, I realized it had been six months since my father committed suicide. This was a very surreal experience for me. I had already said goodbye to my father twice in my life. Once, as a teenager, and again, in my early 20’s.

I didn’t grow up in an ideal situation for a child. My parents were young, and both came from pretty messed up situations themselves. I know there are kids out there that have been physically abused much worse than what we saw in our household. Fortunately, none of us had hospital visits, or had to cover up huge bruises when we left the house. We were lucky to have a dad that would never touch his kids in an inappropriate manner. We didn’t get told we would never amount to anything, or weren’t worth anything, but, the with emotional neglect we suffered, we might as well have been told that.

It’s not easy coming up in a house where you reach out for love and get shut down and turned away nearly 90% of the time. Nothing has to be said to make you feel like you are not special. I have had a hard time, over the years, relating to people. I’m always considered to be a bit off, and I know that. Some think it endearing, others just can’t put their finger on it and keep a certain distance. I didn’t know what to do with myself the first time I fell in love! I was 20 years old, every time Coldplay’s “Yellow” came on, I started getting this swelling feeling in my chest and I began to cry. I just couldn’t fathom the fact that someone could make me feel this good, this special, and I didn’t have to do anything to make it happen! I didn’t have to ace a test, get straight A’s, learn a new crazy trick on my skates; nothing. All I had to do was spend time with this person. I still even to this day have to remind myself that I am special, and I do not have to do anything to get the love I deserve.

At one point in my life, I doubted if I had any good memories involving my dad. I knew I had one. When I was four, we were living with my dad’s parents while our house was being renovated. My dad took me down to the street on my little bike with no training wheels, which I had not ridden on my own yet, and started running behind me with his hand on the seat. I kept turning around periodically to make sure he was still holding on and telling him, “Don’t let go Dad!” He knew I actually didn’t need him holding on back there. He told me, “You’ve got it!” I assured him I needed him there and told him not to let go one more time, but this time when I turned around, I saw my dad standing in the middle of the street with a huge smile on his face. I was riding my bike all on my own. When my dad hung himself, a flood of other good memories came through. I had since remembered more than learning to ride a bike, his death made me realize it wasn’t all bad. He wasn’t all bad.

For me, the thing I am mourning most, is the hope that died along with him. Our relationship was not great by any means, but it was getting better. I felt like he was getting better. Better at relating, talking, showing affection. I actually had hope that one day my Dad was going to call me, just to see how I was doing. Not only that, but make at semi-regular habit of it. I had hopes that he was going to plan a trip out to visit me, instead of traveling to the city that I live in and not even calling me. That hope was very alive, but abruptly died along with Dad.

What can you expect when you lose someone to suicide? You can’t. There are no rules for a scenario like this one. Expect to be confused, extremely sad, to feel sorry for the person, and feel guilt. However, also expect to be pissed off at them, and have no feeling of empathy. You may even feel ashamed and alone. If I have learned anything from the death of my dad, it’s that SO MANY people have lost someone to suicide. We feel like we can’t talk about it because no one will understand, but more people than you know will actually completely understand. My hope is that the survivors of suicide will start to feel more comfortable talking about it. Maybe if it weren’t so taboo, we could heal faster; maybe we’d be more understanding of the causes. If we can be more understanding of the causes, maybe people going through severe depression can feel more comfortable reaching out.

Regardless, I feel better knowing that my Dad is no longer suffering. I am not angry anymore. I am sad that this is what it took to ease his agony, but at least he’s not in that agony anymore. Rest easy Dad. I love you.