I’m sitting there, another box before me. With the possibility of love or pain and wondering if I have reason to hope. You have left me so long ago and I’ve processed the pain. I’ve accepted your exit and only hurt a little when people tell me I have your eyes. You haven’t left me with much. You left me with no physical proof of your existence, outside of a death certificate, and a picture (somewhere) of the two of us. Maybe a vague memory before you died. You’ve instilled in me the desire to make a difference and the knowledge of what it means to lose someone so completely.
Your death has left me with the desire to die. Your departure has left my heart aching with all you will never be a part of. You will never be there to see me walk down the aisle, or hold your grandchildren. You didn’t save me, ever, and you have never wiped away my tears. Your family doesn’t talk to me, despite the fact they are my family too. If anything you’ve left me with more negative emotions than positive memories.
So, I look at this box in fear. Because it is all that my grandmother, your mother, has left of you. I have no idea what my cousin, who I have heard from for the first time as an adult has sent me. With a shaking hand I pull the strip that keeps the box closed away. I slip out the first envelope and it’s pictures. Pictures of your childhood, pictures of your navy days. There are pictures of my sister and I as children. And pictures of you and Nikki…but where am I?
I pull out this box inside the outer box. It has your funeral book. With so few people in attendance and cards expressing condolences to your mom: there is one for my sister and I. The last envelope has a baby book, your baby book, and official navy-type documents.
I break down. I am crying from the depth of my soul. The hurt and anger are fresh all over again. Because I realize, once again, you have left me. You have left me with a family that, truly, does not want me. Through all these years my attempts at contact have been met with silence. You have left me with a mother that is hurting, and possibly breaking down in her own craziness, an I have no way to help her. You have left me with my sister who has grown into a successful, overbearing achiever and someone, though I love, have no way to relate to.
You have left me alone. You have abandoned me. And I have never grown beyond this abandonment. I don’t let people close, I don’t let people in, and I push people away. I do these things because it’s easier to run from them than it is for me to watch them leave. In the end they leave me in frustration anyway because I keep them at arms length. I don’t know how to share my pain and lessen the burden of the loss I carry and I don’t break down in front of others for the fear of being seen as weak.
This day I do break down in front of someone, completely. The lack of you in my life is too much for me to bear. The fact that I have a person in the room is inconsequential because I am alone in my grief and how it is rolling over me.
I don’t know how to move on from the brokenness I felt that day. It is now this weight on my chest. All the ways I have ever used to keep the memory of your absence at bay are no longer sufficient. I don’t know how to deal with the heartbreak and talk about it. I don’t know how to heal.
I do know, if I don’t heal, I will perish. If I don’t walk away from you I will always cling to the hope that, one day, you will come to save me. If I don’t let others in I will disappear. If I don’t create a family from those around me because yours does not want me, I will resort to your way of departure. So, because I cannot use you as my inspiration, I will use myself. I will move on, however slowly. Even though I don’t really want to leave you, I must because I can’t stay here. So dad, my last action in regards to you, is to abandon you like you have me.