My father died.
My biological father. Just like that. We had just spoken in the weeks before. By email of course. Because that was the relationship we had. A life in writing.
He joked that my emails were longer than Tolstoy. I joked that he should grab a snack before reading.
I don’t think I replied to his last message. We talked about lawn mowing. His fondness for it. Enjoying the mindlessness of it. My hatred for it. Given my Hell lawn. But I didn’t reply.
Because I thought I would have time.
Our messages sometimes started mid sentence and likely would make little sense to anyone but us. His shenanigans often made me laugh out loud. Our emails read much like the ramblings of a crazy person with a lot of “…” and never ending sentences. And they could not have been more similar. I could read an email he wrote and think it was my own writing.
But the last one, I didn’t reply.
And then he died.
Leaving me no more time to show him that I am good enough to be included among the daughters he left behind. Good enough to tell the whole town who loved him, that he had more than two daughters. He had more than two grandchildren.
By his choice, for his own reasons, he never met my children. My almost 12 year old son. My boy who has the same little cleft in his chin which my father kept covered by a beard, he never saw that he has his blue eyes with a puff of skin underneath like he’s tired no matter how rested, he never met my boy who is an amazing artist with the kind of humour that would have lit him up. And he never met my daughter; my dramatic, adorable, funny, compassionate little eight year old. He never looked in her eyes that are the exact same brown as mine, or heard the way she loves telling stories, often exaggerated to make them a tad more interesting, just the way I do. The way, I think, he did too.
He chose to have no funeral which is quite fitting for someone who hid in the attic when company came to his house. Not unlike my own personality. But in choosing no funeral, I was left floundering. Confused. Unsure.
So I went to his town. I walked the streets he walked. I threw a stone in the ocean for him. Offering peace. Remembering the many stories he told me about his office, his work, all the people in his life. He had told me all about them over the many years we wrote. Twenty five years. And some years, we wrote every single day. Several times a day. I feel like I know his colleagues, his wife “the sensible one”, his in-laws, his daughters, his grandchildren. He told me about them often.
And he told them nothing about me.
And so I’m left alone in my sadness. The only one in my life who feels this loss.
Left wondering, as I have since I was eighteen years old and my whole identity changed in an instant. Left wondering why I wasn’t good enough for him to talk about? Left wondering why he would leave me out of his obituary that he wrote himself? Knowing, surely knowing, that it would cause another little piece of me to disappear. That it would cause my heart to break into a million tiny pieces. That I would never be the same.
I’ll never know. I can’t ask him. But I do know what he would tell me…at some point, everyone feels like they don’t belong. Because he felt it too. He knew.
I should have insisted that he meet my children. They are so worth knowing. I should have visited. I should have…
I know he would tell me to write more. And to publish my writing. Which is so much like his. In one of the last messages he said to me “you are hilarious you know……somewhere out there is a magazine that would publish your material…” Words he had said to me many times before. Publish. Write. Publish.
I wonder now if I had published my writing, would he have said my name in his final words?
I know now that someday I will hunt down that illusive magazine he swore was out there, just waiting for my writing.
Until then I’m left with these things I’ll never say…
That I was his daughter too.
That I loved him.
That every word he wrote to me was important and special and that I will miss him. My confidant. My friend. My father.
Every single day.
We saw a hummingbird on one of the few times we saw each other in person. Him in his ever present Tilley hat. Me nervous and rambling. Since then, we’ve sent each other gifts and little reminders with the tiny bird a symbol of that day in the park together. He sent me a hummingbird necklace and joked it was so ugly that I’d never wear it . But to me, then and even more now, it is beautiful.
“Legends say that hummingbirds float free of time, carrying our hopes for love, joy and celebration. Hummingbirds open our eyes to the wonder of the world and inspire us to open our hearts to loved ones and friends. Like a hummingbird, we aspire to hover and to savor each moment as it passes, embrace all that life has to offer and to celebrate the joy of everyday. The hummingbird’s delicate grace reminds us that life is rich, beauty is everywhere, every personal connection has meaning and that laughter is life’s sweetest creation.” – Papyrus