“You should sing this to me.”
I look at the husband. What on earth is he talking about? Why would I sing this to him? I just shake my head. No, this song isn’t about him. But the tune continues to haunt me. Why? Why do I keep listening to these words…
I know I’m probably better off on my own
Than lovin’ a man who didn’t know
What he had when he had it
And I see the permanent damage you did to me
I suck my breath in. The thoughts tumble faster than I can hold them in. He didn’t know what he had. He didn’t know that the he’d spend the last days on earth away from the best thing he ever had. He doesn’t see the permanent damage he did to me. But I do. And I know that the “bravest thing I ever did was run.”
I’ve done a lot of healing and I’ve not thought much of him in the last year. But then I received a phone call from my momma. “I just wanted you to know that my father passed away last night.”
I have said that humanity would be blessed the day the man dies. I have no memories of him and the stories I’ve heard are enough to keep me from regret. The pain he brought into my momma’s life still affects me. I live with his legacy.
And so he died.
“Is it bad that I am happy he’s dead?” I can barely say it. The truth. Out loud. Death is too kind for what I think about him.
My momma is gentle, She understands my blunt truth. I know she feels complicated and I ache because I just don’t know how to grieve a man who was so evil in my eyes and I don’t want to hurt my momma. She just loves me like she always does.
I spentd the next couple days in confusion. I hate that I’m not grieving the death of someone who should be someone I love. Someone who should have been in my life from the day I was born. I just feel awful about the whole thing. The husband talks me through the confusion and I finally cry for him. For what could have been.
Sometimes, in the middle of the night, I can feel you again
But I know it’s not my momma’s father I’m crying for. It’s mine. And for once I don’t know how to deal with it. Until I’m sitting in a parking lot…
But I just miss you, and I just wish you were a better man
And I know why we had to say goodbye
Like the back of my hand
And I just miss you, and I just wish you were a better man
A better man
The tears flow and I allow my mind to hear what my heart feels. I miss him. I miss the man he was before he hurt me. I miss the man that would play the piano and talk like Donald Duck. I miss the man who taught me how to sing and fish and how to whistle (well sort of). I miss the man who made marshmallows with me under the stars in the hills of Idaho. I miss the man who would wrestle with us on the floor, telling us to “stay still pillow”. I miss the father he was and the father I imagined him to be and the father he could have been.
The ache I feel is different. It’s not the angry pain or the bleeding wound of the past. It’s more a quiet acceptance that one day I will get a call. I won’t be there as he says good-bye. His death will probably feel as complicated as my grandfather’s does. And I’m ok with that.
I wish he would have risen above his darkness and chosen love. I wish he would have woken every morning and given his best for his family. I wish…I wish he could see me at age 12 and realize that the choice he was going to make was going to alter my life. I wish a lot of things about my father. But most of all, I wish he was a better man.