Today it has been a year since my dad passed away. About another week or so it will have been a year since the day I woke up, sat up and verbally said, “I have to find my dad…” to myself, out loud.
I remember sitting on my living room floor, using my phone, pulling up Google and typing his name. I remember the air being sucked out of by chest. I remember it felt like my lungs were on fire. Was I breathing in those moments? I can’t remember. There he was. My dad’s driver’s license photo looking back at me. Before I even looked at the words, I knew what this photo meant. I had been searching for my father for 12 years and every month I searched, I would always get the same results. The fact that this time was different, I knew it ment he had died.
I clicked on the photo and it brought me to a funeral home website and it had his obituary. He died a few days earlier (on this day, one year ago) and he was already buried and gone. I had prepared myself for some time that he might die with out me finding him, but I was certain someone from a funeral home or government agency would call to notify me since I was the next of kin. No. That doesn’t happen. To this day I’ve yet to be notified.
I completely unraveled. I called my mom, I threw up in the sink.
I called the funeral home and I begged them to give me some kind of information. How did he die? Where did he live? How was he buried? Why wasn’t I notified? Is this real? The man on the phone took my number with out answering my questions and told me I would be called back.
Enter, two of the sweetest souls I’ve come to know.
I received a phone call from a man who tells me my dad had been living on their property for a few years and that they had actually taken him in to their home and cared for him until he died. They clothed him, feed him, coordinated his medical and hospice care. They loved him and kept him warm. These people were family to my dad. Not by blood, but with love and sacrifice.
They asked him if he would like them to find me after he was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. He said no. Why? I’ll never know. I’ll never know a lot of things about my dad. I do know that he had a big heart and he just didn’t know how to love me from a very young age. I think there were many years where he probably didn’t feel like he deserved me or that I deserved a better father.
Hear me right now. Death is coming for all of us. We will all die. Some of us will know when it’s slowly happening and others will have it thrust upon them in a second’s time. Do not let years go by with out resolving conflicts with people you love. Do not think you have time. You can never be sure of that. I spent years wishing my dad would want me, years wishing I could find him to share how I’ve felt and understand why he walked out of my life repeatedly. I have so many questions.
But none of them matter. The only thing I wish I could tell my dad is that he was good enough. He was loved, and that I accepted him always as the person he was. I never needed more than time with him. More, time.
Dad, I love you. I miss you. I see your face in my children and wish you could have met them. I forgive you. I hope you’re proud of me and our life. I hope you see that my love for you was always patient, kind and understanding – even when it wasn’t in the years you abandoned me. I always would have accepted you for you. The good and the bad, dad. I hope you see that. I am forever grateful to your sweet friends and their family. You had guardian angels amongst you and you never knew it. I love you. Good bye, until we meet again.