Friday, June 20, 2008

coming to terms with grief

I suppose people grieve in different ways, some cry their hearts out and move on, some drown their sorrows in mindless distractions, some choose denial. I have dealt with mine in my own way.

Four months ago, we lost our father to cancer before we even had the chance to fight back against the disease. My sisters and I deal with our loss in our own way, supporting each other and dealing with our grief separately. Mostly, we have tried to move on with our lives and find a semblance of normalcy, and most days, I do just fine. But the tears are always close to the surface, bubbling up at the most odd times, mostly when memory strikes so that I could be sitting at my desk and reading something and would find myself tearing up. As complicated as my relationship was with my father, I have become acutely aware of the rightness of that line I read in a poem somewhere, that  no matter what your relationship was with your parents, you will miss them sorely when they're gone.

I miss my father the most on days when I feel overwhelmed with life, because he always managed to ground me, to make me stop and think, and to gain a better perspective of where my life was going. I miss the fact that I could come home absolutely mad about something from work and he would listen to me rant. I miss the fact that he listened even when I did not. I miss him because he used to let me argue with him till I was blue in the face about whatever topic it was that caught my fancy.

Now that he's gone, I am learning to appreciate all that he has done for me and my sisters. The fact that while he nurtured us and made us believe in ourselves unequivocally, he never allowed us to have an overgrown sense of self-worth, to have airs and feel as though we were better than every one else. Thus, no matter what my insecurities were, about my self, about the way I look, I always, always, knew I had the smarts, that I was good at what I did, and that I could be whatever I wanted to be,  and that he would be proud of me no matter what I do or don't do, no matter how I decide to live my life.

It is not that my relationship with him was ever easy. I was the first born, bequeathed with all the hopes and aspirations and expectations of  first time parents. I suppose I must have disappointed him and mommy with some of the decisions that I have made with my life. But the thing with my father was that he let me decide. I regret that the last years of his life, the ones he spent with me, were tinged with resentment on my part, a fact which still gnaws at my conscience four months after his death. It was not that I neglected him, it was that there were days when I resented the fact that I had to be his sole provider when I was just starting my life.

But despite everything, I miss him and there are still days when the tears are much too near the surface. I guess there will always be days like those because moving on doesn't mean letting go and forgetting, but instead merely a dulling of the pain.

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