Updated: Dec 28, 2020
My Dad died on Christmas Day. Suddenly and unexpectedly. Losing your father is hard, but this feels extra hard. This is not the first time I have mourned the loss of my father.
Last year when I found out he was being charged for 25 counts of sex related charges (see blog) I felt like the man I knew all my life was suddenly gone. I immediately started to mourn the loss of the father that I knew and loved. Since that time I have experienced such a roller coaster of emotions trying to move forward and figure out how to deal with the trauma that information caused me and my entire family.
All my life my father showed me such love. He always made me feel special and told me how proud he was of me and what I had accomplished. I felt like his love was unconditional and safe. But learning this about him felt like the ultimate betrayal. It left me questioning everything. If I even really knew my father at all. What was his true self and what was a lie? How could the kind, proud, strong, loving person I knew hurt someone else in this way? Was it possible that both good and bad could co-exist within the same person? Did this wrong doing negate all the good he had done in his life?
Labelling a person as evil makes comprehending an evil action a lot easier when you are in grief
It is so much easier when we can view the world in absolutes. Someone is either "good" or they are "bad." Bad people do bad things and good people do good things.
However, it gets complicated though when a good person does a bad thing. Our brains just don't know how to process such a thing. The method of absolutes only works when we are judging others who we don't know, but it all falls apart when that someone is a person who we love and trust. Someone who is in fact a huge part of you and who you are. You find yourself questioning your own reality and everything you thought you know to be true.
I wish I could tell you that I worked through all these emotions and came to a place of peace with my father. But I had not. I was still struggling. I never ever stopped loving him, but I was still hurt and I was still angry at him for not being the person who I believed him to be. I was still figuring out how to move forward and heal. I kept telling myself, after I hear the truth from him, after the trial, I will figure out how to mend this broken empty place in my heart. Things will get better.
The phone call that you never want to receive
On Christmas Day I got the call that my father had just died. He had been fine the day before, and now he was gone. Just like that. Back to instant heartbreak. Back to mourning. But this time is different. I will no longer have the luxury of time to try to work through my emotions and repair my relationship with my father. Things will be forever left unsaid. Questions will forever be left unanswered. The closure I was counting on to move forward will never come.
So here I am, feeling guilty. I should have called more. I should have reached out more. I should have healed faster. I should have, could have, would have....instant regret and guilt.
BUT....here is what I know to be true:
I was traumatized and hurt, and I had every right to feel that way. I was doing my very best to deal with that pain. I was not talking badly about him, I did not disown him, I hadn't even been sharing how hurt I was with the world. I was working through my pain with the hopes of getting back to a place where I had a good relationship with him again. I had not talked to him recently, but, the last time we spoke I ended our conversation by telling him I loved him. Maybe it was a blessing that is the last thing I said to him. Maybe I need to forgive myself and give myself grace for not having the strength to do any more than what I did.
I learned after he died that my family did for me what I could not over the past year. They shared pics often with him on how much my kids have grown up, they shared stories and memories, and most importantly they shared my journey to becoming a fancy shawl dancer. He saw the video of me dancing for the very first time, and was overcome with joy. This means the absolute world to me as I thought of him so much during that time. I am forever grateful that they did this for us both, and that they were stronger than I could be.
When I reflect back on everything, I realize that I had not lost the father I knew all my life. My relationship with him was not a lie. He loved me with his whole heart. That was real. He was proud of me and my kids. That was real. The only thing I lost over the past year was the man I never knew existed. The part of him that he kept hidden. The hurt, traumatized and broken part of him. So I will not mourn that man any longer (because I didn't really know him), I will mourn the man that was kind, had the biggest heart in the world, the man who was a warrior and a fierce protector of our culture and our family. That man I will miss with my whole heart and soul.
Kesalul Dad ❤️