Grieving the Flawed
At 17 I lost my biological dad. I always thought it was a weird way to describe death. Like you misplaced a person. When the reality is; it felt numbing, excruciatingly painful, like a faint dream, and my worst nightmare. You feel like at any moment someone will tell you that it's not real. You will wake up and everything will be as it was. When that doesn't happen you relive that moment of finding out over and over. Similar to a dvd skipping to the same part over and over.
We were not particularly close. In fact we were not close at all, not in the slightest. You see, he was not a consistent or active participant in my life. There were many days I spent waiting by the door for trips that never happened. One Christmas stands out to me when I reflect. He was supposed to come and pick me up from my aunt's house Christmas day. I waited upstairs away from the rest of my family in anticipation of leaving. After a few times of my mom prodding me to wait downstairs with the rest of our family, I did. She knew he wasn't going to show. The hope was that I would have so much fun, maybe I would forget. I was devastated.
Thankfully my dad dad was there to always pick up the pieces. I do not refer to him as my step dad, because he is my dad. That's it, that's all, period. On the days I was stood up, he took me out instead. Making sure to spend some extra time with me to lessen the blow. He would take me to play basketball with him on Saturday mornings. I never lacked a dad. Yet and still I felt a sense of rejection.
I found out on a Wednesday night that my biological dad had lung cancer. I was a mix of emotions. Scared. Angry. Hurt. Confused. What did this mean? During one of his stints in the hospital I wrote him a letter letting him know I forgave him. That despite all of what happened and everything that didn't...I still loved him. He passed a week after my 17th birthday. Grieving a parent who didn't parent you was difficult navigation for my teen self. I was upset about missed time and memories. Grieving a relationship that never came to pass and never will.
I still have moments of profound sadness. You inexplicably still love them. There are moments where I miss him deeply. But day by day I heal, the ache dulls, and the wound becomes less intense. Robert was a flawed man in many ways. In the end he was able to teach me that flaws are merely opportunities for growth, not a life sentence. It's been 14 years now. Rest well, dad. Rest well.