Dad (noun): One’s father.
Origin: 16th century perhaps imitative of a young child’s first syllables da, da.
Nothing prepared me for the day my dad shot himself. Apparently it isn’t nice to come out with it like this, but I really don’t have the words to skirt around the topic when that sentence is all that there is at the forefront of my mind. Right there, between my eyebrows. I will, however, spare you the gory details and instead bore you with the associated feelings and thoughts that follow.
It was only day 133 that he made contact, already on day 1042 he decided to remove his contact. Why did he do it? It is all just speculation. He left a brief note on a post-it to his wife: “I make it short, am in pain, love you.”
On the first day I met him he already mentioned that none of the men in his family had ever lived beyond 72 years of age. He was 68 at that time. He made it to a month before his 71st birthday. At 70 he already moaned that this wasn’t a life anymore. He grew older, weaker. His knees got worse, he pulled his shoulder. He couldn’t move about as much and be as active as he used to be. He was always very active, creative, independent.
The view of being confined to his house with a prospect of couple years recovery time in-between surgical procedures on his knees and shoulder didn’t exactly excite him. Just as difficult it was for his family to sit him down for a proper talk, just as difficult it seemed to him to sit with his pain, be it purely physical, or maybe even mental/emotional, we will never know, just as we won’t know how long he had been planning to use his hunter’s gun to remove himself from the equation.
I don’t take it personal, yet I am just as conflicted and confused now that he is gone for good as I was when he suddenly entered my life. I basically have to re-evaluate my whole life again, analyse and comprehend everything against the stark background of a person’s death, a death which at times I had pretended had already happened because to me he was practically dead as he had refused contact with me form most of my life.
Throughout my life I essentially already covered all the classic stages of grief, the anger at his absence, the sadness that he didn’t want to know me, the denial of having a father or even needing him in the first place, the depression of coming to terms with who I am as an incomplete person. Just the acceptance just wouldn’t come. Maybe the actual confirmed death of my father will help me finally find peace.
The effect his suicide has on my own suicidal ideations is debatable. On one side it makes me less likely to kill myself, having seen and experienced first hand the kind of pain and devastation such event leaves behind. On the other side, however, I know that if I really wanted to do it I would, just like my dad.
But for the time being I’m just trying to figure out what all this means to me, how to make sense of it. I never had a father, then he came into my life in my thirties and I didn’t for the life of it know what to do with him. Then he is suddenly gone again, a mere two years later, without an explanation and I wish I had made more of an effort to get to know him, talk to him, spend more time with him.
A tiny part in me feels guilty. Why? Because he did it because of me? Hardly. Because I caused a stir within his family when he let me into his life? Possible. Because once he let me in I didn’t take full opportunity to be part of his life? Maybe. Because he couldn’t live with the shame of ignoring me and cutting me out of his life for over 30 years? Mh…
It’s always easy to say afterwards that you wish you would have, could have, should have but in reality it wasn’t that simple. He lived in another country and he himself wasn’t an easy personality to get close to. Even his wife and children said that he hardly ever talked much about his feelings, never mind sitting him down to talk about family business. Chances are I wouldn’t actually have managed to talk to him, get close to him, the way the little girl inside of me wanted to, regardless of how much time I have had.
That chapter is well and truly gone now and I have to learn to move on and finally put a full stop to the paragraph of trying to live up to my dad’s imaginary expectations and my exhausting efforts to be noted and accepted and instead learn to love myself just the way I am.
Written retrospectively for 02/03/2019.