The final words I ever spoke to my dad, were angry ones. He died last night.
He phoned me on my birthday, three weeks ago and we got into an argument. I wound up hanging up on him, then wrote him a letter shortly after. It angered him so much, he wouldn’t answer the phone or respond to any message I left between then and now.
In a way, it’s poetically perfect for things to be left between us like that. I cried real tears this morning, for the first time since we had another fight, 19 years ago.
Here is the letter I wrote him;
You’ve always tried to be the big hero when others are in distress. You’ve always tried to facilitate the building of bridges between estranged people in your life. You go on endlessly about relationships in your past that were lost, estranged, or harmed in some way through your words or actions, but you fail to maintain the relationships in your present.
You constantly bring up the past, talking about those who’ve wronged you, but you go around in the present saying and doing things that injure those who are closest to you. Most significantly, you are completely ignorant of the damage you cause.
It takes so much to overcome the hurts we accumulate through our daily lives, but requires only the slightest, most careless of words to cause the most profound of damage to our headspace.
We can walk the earth, and with almost no effort, we can be the toxic cancer that slowly kills those around us. We can also choose to put more thought into our words and actions, and become the light the heals those around us.
Before you put anymore thought into telling others how they should live their lives, how and when they should accept God into their lives, or condemn others for the wrongs they’ve caused you – start with fixing the person you see in the mirror. He’s the only one you have any control over anyway.
I always felt close with my Dad. We’ve been through a lot of hard years together. I think back to my childhood and I remember nothing but love.
At Christmas, we knew the end might be near. We had the ‘conversation’. There were no tears or dramatics. Nothing new to say that hadn’t already been said. Nothing to resolve that we couldn’t live to get off our chest. Just me and dad, being who we are, and not quite accepting each others’ point of view.
Maybe if we did resolve every outstanding little thing, it would feel like the end. It would feel like a period instead of a comma. This outstanding last little bit of bitchiness, in a way, keeps him alive inside of me. It’s the conflict I’ll carry with me to the end of my days. It’s a perfect symbol of how beautifully imperfect our relationship was.
I love you Dad, warts and all.