Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Happy Father's Day...The Letter

So I've convinced 3 friends to start therapy since I started going in February. Remember the last tag, where one of the questions was the dumbest thing you've done in the last 5 years? Well therapy is like, the best effing thing I've done in my LIFE. Highly recommend it. I swear it's like, happy hour...with no booze, or dudes...which doesn't sound all that fun at all. But trust me, it's a blast! And I swear to God I'm not being facetious. I lucked up and got a really great therapist, who at this point can do a hilarious Wise impersonation dead on. Good times.

My best friend since 4th grade just finished her clinical psych degree at St. John's and she tells me that lots of people stop therapy bec they hate their doctor. And we all know Black folk got some silly stigma about mental health. No wonder our shit is so messy. ::sigh::

Anywho...I had an assignment one week...write a letter to my dad. Easy enough. Not really. The thing of it is...I'm still in a state of denial, working overtime to avoid feeling the weight of the reality of the death. Yadda yadda yadda. Baby steps.

Wait til I tell her I showed y'all...

Dear Daddy,

Brian from across the street got married this weekend. It was such a great ceremony, lots of love, laughs and smiles. I did a lot of crying.

First of all, “Phoenix” from down the street was one of the groomsmen. He was so handsome and striking, and it was impossible not to miss his brother “Penn State”. You remember, the one who died a couple years ago? When we were little I used to think I would marry him.

Then the wedding singer was really good, sang a really heartfelt song. It was hard not to be overwhelmed.

But then I also had very vivid memories from our last family wedding. A lot of the same people who were at (my sister’s) the wedding, showed up at the same church for your funeral, commenting on how happy and healthy you seemed at the wedding just a few weeks earlier.

At Brian’s wedding, when the preacher asked ‘who gives the woman away to this man,’ I couldn’t help but remember how coolly you said it that time…”My wife and me.”

At every wedding I’ve ever been to, I have imagined what my wedding day would be like. The dress, the food, the people, sure, but I’m usually more mesmerized with how I will feel, merging my family with his, feeling my heart beat out of my chest walking down the aisle. How he’ll kiss me. Having you give me away.

Now I envision “Anger Management” and “The Boss of Me” (my brothers) giving me away, having a moment of silence for the father of the bride. Lighting a special candle like the one we light at family dinners now.

Those are all outward shows of remembrance, but I’m sure that when the time does finally come, I’ll be more missing the personal things, the ones that no one else will see. I’ll miss the moments you and I would spend alone together right before we walk down the aisle. I wonder what you would say to me. I’ll miss sitting down on the living room steps, or on the porch telling you that I’m in love. Asking you what you think of him. Watching you scope him out from afar. Waiting to hear from mommy what you REALLY think.

Some times it feels like life has just been on pause since the last time I saw you. I’m really ready for it to start again, but for some reason I can’t seem to give it a boost. I know that’s not the way you would want it, and I know that you wouldn’t understand it. Well I take that back, maybe you would understand, but you surely wouldn’t approve. You were always very hard to figure out in that way. You had this very bilateral personality. You’d be very charismatic and funny to everyone else, yet very withdrawn and disgruntled at home. Oh how I wished I could slip into your world during the “laugh times.” I know that you’d be liberal with the smiles and laughs and maybe even hugs. It was in those times that you’d lovingly recall some mistake of mine, and make me feel not so bad about it (“Wise, Ray Charles could have seen that car you backed into!”) Those times would absolutely erase the times you’d be upset, or quiet or gone to work.

As an adult, I’ve learned to be a critical thinker. I know that there are always things lurking under the surface, just waiting for us to uncover them. So I know that you were not a miserable old man. I know that there were reasons why you showed us the you that you did. And I know that I was almost past the stages where you felt you had to still discipline me, almost old enough to get to know you. But maybe, just maybe you didn’t want me to grow to be that age. Maybe there were things in your own life, mortality perhaps, that made thinking of me as your little girl seem easier. Maybe you felt old thinking of me growing up. Maybe you didn’t know how to let go.

The point is that there was a lot of unfinished business between us, but that never stopped me from thinking the absolute best of you.

I have a lot of growing to do and I need to find a way to do it without you. Yeah, I get the whole, ‘he’s always with you’ thing. I do and I feel it. But it’s nothing like feeling accountable to your authority, seeing you, hearing your silence, knowing your mood.

I’m constantly thinking about the last time I saw you, or the last couple of times, and knowing that there are a lot of things I wish were different. Yet having no regrets. Sort of.

If there is one thing I know, it’s that we always understood each other.

I know that even with that oxygen mask on, the last thing you said to me was, “You didn’t have to come today, Wise.” I know what you meant. You knew I didn’t like being there in the hospital. The day I was leaving to go back to NY, I messed around all day doing nothing, and procrastinated as usual, and almost missed the flight because I waited until the last minute to come say goodbye to you. I knew it was goodbye. Mommy even had to ask me that day, “Aren’t you going to come see your father before you go?” I can’t believe she actually had to ask me that. I can’t believe I wasn’t there all day long. I can’t believe I even got on the plane. When I left, I told mommy I would be back.

I left for two reasons: there was a check waiting for me from a client in Brooklyn, and because I was expecting a guest for the holiday weekend. Convenient excuses that gave me a reason not to be there with you.

I know that you wouldn’t want me there, to be uncomfortable or sad, but did you maybe want me to grow up in that moment? Did you expect me to? Was I maybe supposed to finally stop falling back on the youngest little sister role and be there like the others?

In the moments that I envision being there, I’m laying in the hospital bed with you. Less worried about the tubes and machines, and more wondering if you know it’s me. Just laying there, holding your hands, watching you breathe, watching you die. And in those moments I wonder if you missed me in those last days? Were you sad that you didn’t see me with all the others before you closed your eyes? Were you worried about me? Did it hurt? I mean, on the inside?

This, not having you here is a different kind of heartache. I’ve been in love before, I’ve had my heart broken, and I know that time takes that hurt away. But losing you is with me every single moment of every single day. Some days the hurt is more than others. And sometimes the hurt is more just a melancholy set of memories, kind of like at Brian’s wedding.

Finding a true love is very important to me. I remember hearing a story that when you found out that “Spider” (my niece) had her heart broken by a little boy in her kindergarten class, you told her it was good that she had that experience early so it won’t be so bad if it ever happens again.

Is that what you would tell me right now? Would you tell me that it’s good that I’m getting this grief and this confusion out of the way so that I will be ready when true love comes for real?

As we were leaving Brian’s wedding on Saturday, we said goodbye to his mother. She was sitting at the table with some of their family and she introduces us as her neighbors of over 30 years. And with tears in her eyes, she told them about you. Her exact words were, “Any time I have ever needed anything, these people have been right there for me without a question asked. And when her husband passed away I finally felt like I was able to be there for them in the same way. He was a good man. A good father and a great neighbor. A good, good man. And look at his children, you can see how good he was.”

Those are the things I will be thinking when I get married. That my dad’s not here, but that I’m marrying a good man, just like him.


T. Cas said...

Wise, this was touching. I dont usually blog advertise, but if you get a chance, check out my post Father's Day from Wednesday. I'm interested to get your take on it. It was like therapy for me.

Will said...

Damn, Wise ... that was deep and therapeutic for me, too.

Thanks for sharing this letter. It was definitely on point and on time.

Respect ... Will

jameil1922 said...

omg that was so beautiful. i got chills. seriously. and i don't just think its the beer or the fact its a mite cold in here.

my mom's dad died when she was 16. he was sick and she didn't go visit him. she wondered the same things you do. so now she's obsessed w/visiting the sick and shut-in. especially the older ones. and when an older lady at our church was ready to die, the same age her father would've been, my mom was there. and i think that made her feel a lot better.

CNEL said...

That was deep thank you for sharing. I never had a Dad growing up. My Dad exited the scene before my mother had my twin sister and me, so I love, love, love to hear good dads stories, so I can have something to smile about.

I feel you on the wonders of therapy. I have had more than one friend or acquaintance have to undergo mental health treatment, and I wonder if they'd not had crazy things happen if they had, had preventitive mental health care, and not more times than not emergency mental health care, how things would have been much different for them. Oh will I have something to say about the mental health thingy when I get back to the states and can write to my hearts content. Thats one of those topics that I need to harp on for an extended period. I'm making note of it right now.

Thanks again for doing that thing that you do, being so damn expressive, but in a good way.

De said...

Girl, you have tears in my eyes, and my hands on my phone to dial my daddy. I hope that this letter was very therapeutic for you, because it truly touched me.

So...Wise...Sista said...

TCas...Thanks! And your post was really personal and deep. I'm really glad you shared it.

Will...I appreciate that. Gotta check you out. ;)

Jameil...Thank you. I know that I'll always have a variation of those thoughts and that there will be an evolution of how I deal and understand it all. But I'll be dammed if I start stalking shut ins. lol I'm kidding.

CNel...Yup, therapy is the shit, if you get the right therapist. I think it's so absurd that people think it signals weakness or that we's such a strong race and don't need it. Gimme a damn break. But let them rims get dirty and I bet folks don't let them stay that way! lol I'm at a point in life where I can see some goals I want to pursue, some professional, some personal...and it would have been impossible for me to successfully achieve them without a healthy analysis and understanding of myself. You wouldn't believe how much of our adult behavior is directly connected to basic childhood interactions. It's crazy and amazing all at once. Maybe I'll talk more about it soon. Highly recommend it.

De...I hope you had a great convo with your dad!

Urban Sista said...

That's a beautiful post... man, my eyes are watering. Blessed is anyone who had or has a father who was there, who cared and who loved you. Keep up the therapy -- I think it's a great thing.

nikki said...

wonderful. simply wonderful, wise. i feel so blessed to be a reader of your blog.

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  • So...Wise??

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