Emotional Tug-of-War

Travel back in time with me.
First we’ll jump a week or so –
and then back another 15 years.

The tension was thick.
We were just a couple years reconnected
after 7 years of estrangement
that was dripping with betrayal, 
and grief.

But I was trying.

He’d call every once in awhile,
mostly we talked through email.
Always about the most mundane of topics,
the weather,
the farmers market,
the elevation differences between our home states.

I guess I should mention the thousands of miles between us too.

Now as I look back,
I guess I can see how he was trying his best.
He didn’t have the best role models either.

But I was so angry at him.
Admit what you’ve done!
Acknowledge my hurt!

That’s all I needed.
Just hear me, LOVE me!!

He never did.

Then, on a day a week or so ago
plus 15 years –
I received an email telling me about a car accident my cousin had been in.
I already knew.

My response was angry and short “I have better things to do than gossip about our family’s troubles, I already know about the accident.” 

It was the last thing I said to him.
The next time my phone rang from that area code,
it was my aunt calling to tell me about his stroke.

The next morning I flew out,
he wasn’t expected to make it over night but he did.
They had done brain surgery
because he was so young,
but it was medical obligation,
not a procedure that would save him.

He was deep in a coma,
machines hooked up helping keep him alive,
the medical teams circled like vultures
wanting me to sign paperwork to donate his organs
before he took his last breath.

Did anyone even realize I hadn’t seen him in over 10 years
and now he was dying?
Why wouldn’t they all just give me some time?

I couldn’t think straight,
I couldn’t believe it was happening.

He died the next morning.
Today, 15 years ago.

Until the day I moved away,
he was my hero.
I was going to stay with him forever.

But his betrayals were so deep,
I had to go.
I wasn’t safe.

Now 15 years later –
I have never been more angry at him,
I don’t want to shed tears for this man
who would testify against me,
call me a liar,
treat me like a meal ticket,
and make me available to a monster.

But I can’t help it.
Now more than ever I understand 
What I have missed out on,
and the damage that it has done.

I cry for him a lot –
tears of anger,
tears of bitterness,
tears laced with infinite“what ifs”.
and yes, tears of mourning.

I miss him so much,
and I hate him too.

My Albatross.
My father.

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