I’ve heard of roommates who leave Post-it notes rather than talking to one another. This is a letter because you don’t really listen when I try to talk to you. Maybe if I write it down, give you a snapshot of how things are going, you’ll be able to understand where I’m coming from. This isn’t taking into account everything that’s happened. I just need to let you know where we’re at right now — today — so you’ll be able to understand things from my point of view.
This is going to sound pretty harsh, but I’m really not trying to blame you for everything. You are just such an imposing visitor that you influence more than you realize. That’s not supposed to be a compliment, but knowing you, you’ll probably take it as one.
You’ve clouded my eyes and interrupted my sleep. My skin’s a mess and you’ve sapped any drive I had to exercise (which was never much in the first place) even though I know that might help me feel better. You’ve dulled my taste buds and sometimes I think you’re even plugging my ears. You’re muddling my brain, making decisions is twice as difficult with you hanging around.
You’ve messed with the fabric of time, making whole months pass by without barely a flutter, and certain nights feel as if they will never end. You’ve amplified my weaknesses and my fears. You’ve shown me things about myself I never knew, so in some sense I should be thankful, but that’s not something I admit easily because the price for it has been so great.
I’ve surrendered joys to your relentless crush, given you space to stretch out and run your course, half hoping you’ll wear yourself out; I’ve been unpleasantly surprised by your strength and endurance. I can’t believe how you muscle in to situations that aren’t your business, horn in on conversations where you’re not invited. You’re quite rude that way, and you show no decorum. I’d have a talk with you about it but you’re just so bossy, and any time I try to address you, you either ignore me or laugh in my face.
On the one hand, I’m mad at you, tired of you hanging around and messing things up. At the same time, I don’t know what to do with the idea that you’ll one day be gone. What will that be like? What will be in your place? My dad can’t come back, and right now you’re standing in his place, a really rotten understudy who’s merely there to take up the empty space where my dad ought to be. I’m trying to engage you because of that, because you’re here because he’s gone. You can understand why I’d have strong feelings about you.
There will come a time when I’ll be ready to put you down. When that time comes, it will not be disloyal to do so. It will not indicate a diminished amount of love. It will merely be the uncontrollable, ceaseless passing of time that has put distance between and which lessens your impact. To allow positivity and perspective to outweigh sorrow and mourning is to choose how I want to live in the world. And I am still living, so I must choose how I want to engage the world around me.
I’m not ready to let you go yet.
I don’t know when I’ll be ready. But I know it’s out there.
I know too that I will always love my dad. Being able to talk (without crying) about the many things that made him wonderful will be a welcome change. To be able to recount his many triumphs, his idiosyncracies, his passions, his joys, this will be a gift he gives by the life he led. And when you go, even if it’s only in small increments, it will be a relief but another underlining of another form of loss.
Your reluctant, temporary partner, TC
In today’s unusual post, I’m linking up with Kate Motaung. She’s inviting people to write letters to grief as she shares her own letters in an e-book she’s offering, Letters to Grief. You can read other letters and read part of her e-book here.