Mom reports, "James died at 12:22 p.m." Five days after his 74th birthday...on this, the sixth day of September, which is also my older brother's 54th birthday. Though my good-bye was said, there are...emotions.
My younger brother relates that the cancer is taking a toll, that you've seen more days in the hospital than out in recent weeks. For this turn of events I am truly sorry for I know it must not only be taking a toll on you, but on your wife and your son...well, all your sons.
Friends who have weathered the cancer storm in recent years advise the end could be very near or much further off, the time in between could be full of very ill days or not or some mix in-between. I am choosing to believe that your silence this time is due to your sickness and your needing to focus on the variety of treatments and the side effects therein. Thus, I'm taking the initiative. Again.
This is goodbye to you, James, the man who was once, very briefly, my father.
Since hearing of your illness a year ago, I've been fashioning this goodbye, preparing myself for this departure which solidifies your absence. I've been preparing for how this ultimate departure will impact the sons you had with my mother and how that, in turn, will impact me.
In many ways, the preparation goes beyond the last year, for you have been physically absent for decades and emotionally absent virtually my entire life. I have time and time again had to reconcile that for one reason or another you wanted nothing at all to do with me. Sure, on the rare occasion you responded to one of the thousands of cards or letters with some declaration of love, I was left ultimately left with the deafening silences that followed. I was left with imagining or fashioning a scenario where we'd reconcile. But, in reality, I gave up, gave in to your absence. And then, cancer.
And thus, I tried again, we talked and it was easy. But then, more silence. Perhaps due to the illness and the toll it is taking. Perhaps due to my not adhering to your beliefs. Perhaps due to . . you, being you. The history that is our existence dictates that there is always something to blame for the nothingness.
James, this is goodbye, but I also want you to know that I am not angry. I'm not angry for the decades of silences. I'm not angry that you missed the first day of every school, every accolade, every heartbreak, every . . everything related to me up to and including thee entire lives of my children. I am not angry that your YOU was not, is not, cannot be, my dad.
I said goodbye to that fantasy and now I say goodbye to the man James who was once, ever so briefly, my father. The man who taught me, designed or accidental, how to be present for those I love; how to say to them at every opportunity, "I LOVE YOU" and how to mean it, how to show it with my head, heart, energy, money, and more. I am saying goodbye but also thank you. For the nothingness you exhibited helped frame the me that is me.
I am sorry for your pain and suffering and how that impacts your wife and sons. I wish for the rest of your days to be as comfortable as your family and doctors can make for you. I trust that your beliefs provide for you a measure of tranquility as you transition . . .
So, for the last time, goodbye and may peace be with you.
Your Only Daughter