Sunday, September 30, 2012

I Like Having Options...

I had a dream a couple nights ago about my dad. I think the best part about dreaming about someone that you have lost is that in your dream you have the option of  seeing them or talking to them or calling them. I like having options. Meaning, that in my dream, I really didn't talk to my dad much. I went to his house, which was nice, to know I could just go to his house and that he would be there. But I talked to someone else the whole time. I think maybe they were his daughters. I guess daughters from his new marriage. It was very Kardashian like - if you get what I'm saying. And I like the feeling of going to the house I grew up in and not feeling like a stranger. That wasn't the case in the last couple years of my dad's life. Things got a little....uncomfortable. Sort of shifted the wrong way. Knocking on the door to the home where I spent 15 years growing up and feeling like I didn't belong was very surreal to me. Like someone had knocked me on my ass and didn't know how to help me up.

My dad and mom had decided to split up for at least the third and final time when I was 17, fast approaching 18. At least that is what I recall in those 15 years in that house. I remember my dad leaving twice. I was too young to know why. I didn't get it. I didn't like it but I saw my dad enough that it didn't phase me too much. Also, my dad had some good years in him. He coached my soccer teams, he cheered me on and literally ran up and down those side lines at my high school and select games. He fixed my cars. All of them. He got me home when I would call him lost and this happened frequently. He built a big pool that created all sorts of memories for my sister and I growing up in our back yard. He took us on vacations and camping trips. He even attempted to talk to me about boys.  He did all of this with my mom by the way. They did it together. As our parents. I had a good childhood and I can't complain. My dad was goofy. All my friends liked him because he was always playing some sort of practical joke. He knew which boys weren't good for me. And I can't remember a time when it was my best friend, my sister, my dad and myself  when we were together that we were not laughing. Laughing until we cried. My parents would let me have little get togethers and watch scary movies (all of course just an excuse to cuddle with my current boyfriend on the couch) And he would take the screen off of the windows behind the couch and come crawling through like a Zombie looking for it's next victim. It worked. It scared the BeJeeezus out of my friends. My dad was cool like that.

When he left the last time I was annoyed. I was sort of over the back and forth of it all. Then they said they were actually getting a divorce and my annoyed state turned into anger. At this point my dad hadn't been around as much. He was always playing softball late at night. He always came home smelling of alcohol. He just wasn't around as much. I guess for me, because I needed him less, it wasn't THAT big of a deal....but being a wife now, I know that for my mom it had to have been awful. So I gravitated towards my mom more. I felt sorry for her. I don't know why either. My mom never acted like she was a victim or never spoke ill of him. I guess I was old enough to know that him leaving was kinda the coward thing to do.

And then I found out he had a girlfriend.

And then I hated him.

Like really hated him.

For a Very Long Time.

And my dad didn't know how to recover from that. He didn't know how to make it right. He didn't know how to say, "I'm sorry." And make it count. Truth be told, it was impossible. At that point I wanted everything that had happened to go away. And it wasn't going to. So whatever my dad tried to say to me, to plea to me (which he did - ugh...this part breaks my heart). I wasn't listening. I kinda disowned him. I was so disappointed in him. He was NOT the man that took me camping on a beach, he was NOT the man that was seriously a good fill in DAD to my best friend, Kim. He was not the dad that rooted me on my whole life. The last thing I yelled at my dad before pretending like he didn't exist for so long was, "What am I suppose to tell Lisa now?? How could you do this to her, to me, to our family!!"

And then I got in the car and left....

I didn't talk to my dad. I don't even know how long I went without talking to my dad. Without answering his phone calls. Avoiding his visits at my work. It's really devastating to think about it now actually. The way I treated him. I was young. He was my dad. I expected more, I suppose.

I have never regretted anything more in my life. Ever.

One day, my dad begged me to go to lunch with him. I figured free lunch and I'm poor, fine. But I'm not talking to him. It was awkward. Not how it should be with a parent. Especially someone I had been close to for so long. My dad then told me that him and his girlfriend  broke up. I thought, seriously? What the hell do I care? I don't. At all. And then I saw my dad trying not to cry. He was hurt. All of the sudden guilt coursed it's way through my body. All this time and I had forgotten that my dad was human. He's an idiot. But he's human all the same.

I wasn't excited about mending my relationship with my dad. But it wasn't completely off the table for me anymore.  If it worked, great, if not, then whatever. Nothing had changed. And maybe I won't let my mom know about what I'm thinking either. Just in case.

And slowly, very slowly, things started to change a bit.

I still couldn't forgive my dad. But I realized, this is my one and only Dad. The only one I get in this life. I can't not talk to him forever. I mean one day he's going to walk me down the aisle and be a grandpa to my kids. I can't hate him forever. Can I? Plus, I always thought it would be fun to go have a drink with my dad when I was of age. My mom wasn't/isn't much of a drinker, my dad may appreciate that outing a little more.

Let the healing begin....

Over time things got a little bit better. He took care of me when I had the worst case of strep I have ever had. He came over to our apartment and would smoke cigars with us. We went to bars with him in the Stockyards. He let me throw way cool parties at his house when he was gone for the weekend. And he would only get a small degree of pissed when things weren't put back in their rightful place. But even after all that things were not the same. It was like I was trying to fill a void that may never be filled. I was trying to fill this hole in my heart with a Dad but I was really just making a new friend.

And then he got a new girlfriend.

I had to close my eyes really tight and grit my teeth and figure out what I was going to do next. Because he really liked this girlfriend. He really liked this girlfriends daughter. And he really liked this girlfriends daughters' daughter. What? He was a grandpa and it wasn't my kid. WTF? It's like he got a whole new family overnight. {And you want me to come meet them? And see your new "house"? Whoooa....hold up here...I was okay with making things right when you were lonely and I felt like you needed me but now this? This isn't okay. This is too much to digest. What about Mom? Is Lisa okay with this? I am totally not okay with this. This makes my stomach hurt. No. No. No. I need some time.}

And there I was again. A selfish, desperate daughter back at it.

I think it was my sister that convinced me to meet them. To go to their house. To pretend like I was okay. So I did it. It was as bad as I thought it was going to be. But I missed my "friend". I missed talking to him and hanging out with him. I use to call him every Monday to see how his weekend was. I didn't want to stop that. I wasn't going to take two steps forward just to take a billion steps back. I was going to fake it. And that's just what I did. I faked it. I pretended to be happy all the time around him. I even invited him out to my 21st birthday (with the girlfriend) and excluded my Mom. Totally hurt my Mom's feelings by doing that. I suck.

After awhile the faking became easier. I started to believe it myself. Like maybe this could work. And maybe my dad would feel like my dad again. For a brief amount of time it was that way. I let go of all of my hurting and saw how happy he was. He was so good to his "grand daughter",  that I could only imagine how he would be with my own kids. We were going to be okay.

Monday Morning, January 10th, 2000 -
I'm at work, my dad calls me there.

"Hey Amy, I didn't think I would catch you at work on a Monday morning."
"I usually work Monday nights but I traded shifts so that I could go to Abilene tonight. What's up?"
"Well I'm going to be in the area around lunch time, do you think your ol' dad could take you to lunch today?"

At lunch my dad told me that he asked Annette to marry him. That they wanted Lisa and I to be in the wedding. He told me that he really wanted to make things right with people in his past. With family. With friends. He told me not to tell Lisa, that he was going to tell her later that day. I faked the biggest smile in the world and hugged him and told him I was excited about looking at dresses. When I got back to work I cried for what seemed like forever to my friend, Lee. He looked at me like I was crazy. Like what's the big deal. I don't even know what the big deal was to be honest. I don't even know. Because, looking back, it was the smallest deal in the world. Looking back I would do anything to see my dad get married to Annette. If it meant my dad was alive today he could have married her a thousand times.

On January 11th, 2000 my dad died. I was in Abilene. Far away from people that loved me. From people that needed me. From people that I needed.

 My Mom called my boyfriends house number. He went back in the bedroom and talked on the phone with her for a little while. I had only been with him for four months. He met my Dad once. My Dad met the wrong man in my life. My Dad knew it too. My Mom was crying. My Mom rarely cries. Her voice was shaking. She went on to tell me that Dad had an accident. Something with his heart she thought. And....I said...And...And He didn't make it, Amy. I'm so sorry. Where is my Sister?? Where is my Sister!!!! I yelled it. And my knees buckled and my body found a place on the floor where I would not move until daylight.

I layed on that floor and I cried and I cried and I cried. I couldn't stop crying. I had no one to console me. Even if he had tried, it wasn't genuine. He didn't know me. He didn't know my dad. He didn't know what to say.  No one really does. I cried until I couldn't anymore. I would start to doze off and then wake up suddenly. I thought it was a horrific nightmare. But the reality set in seconds later and I sobbed some more. You cannot shed enough tears when you lose a parent. I never moved from my spot on that floor. Unless it was to get up and get my own tissue.

The next morning my Mom called me and told me that we had to figure out a way for me to get home. I refused. I did not want to go home. I did not want to see him. I couldn't bare to see my sisters face so hurt. If I go home this will all be real. I will have to deal with it. I can't deal with this. I cannot deal with this. I won't deal with this. And then Kim, who had lost a father too, her husband and their friend drove to Abilene so that I would not have to drive home alone. So I sat and waited. I sat on the couch in a fog. I just stared into nothing. I sat and I waited for two hours. The things that I thought of in those moments crushed my little heart. Broke it into a billion pieces. Did my Dad know that I loved him? Did I tell him that on Monday when he left? Did he ever get to call my Sister? Oh God, please let that be the case. What did he mean he wanted to make things right with people in the past? Could my dad see right through me? Did he know I was faking it for so long? Did my Dad know that I loved him? I really did..I mean I really did. I hated him but I loved him. I loved him so much. He made me very angry but he was my Dad. Did he know that or did he think I was still mad at him after all this time? All this time...I lost so much time with him...How can this be real? This is not real. I am going to wake up any time now. I know it. What am I going to say to my sister. My poor sister. I was empty.

If Kim was good for anything in my life it was for the next two hour ride home. We laughed. We laughed so much together and had so many memories of my Dad. It was just what I needed. It was a cleansing. We cried some too but if there is anything that I learned on that ride home it was that there was hope for me yet. If you can find laughter in your darkest moments, you will surely find laughter when the sun is shining. And it will shine again.

It has been almost 13 years since we lost our Dad. 13 years. But when I think about it...when I think about all the things he has missed out on it hurts just as much now as it did then. That never changes. What changes is the frequency of the hurt. What changes is realizing how precious memories really are. What a gift life really is. I get angry when I think about how my Dad isn't around now to spend holiday with us. Or how I can't call him on a Monday morning to see how his weekend was. Or maybe I wouldn't have to call him because he came to Jackson's basketball game on Saturday and on Sunday he picked up Ella and gave her a big bear hug and pacified Landon by playing "tackle" football with him in our living room. My children are really the ones that got screwed. He would have made one heck of a Grandpa. I wonder what he would have done when I was going through my divorce. He would definitely enjoy hanging out with my husband and  brother-in-law. These are the kinds of thoughts that could make you go insane and put you at peace all at the same time if that is even possible. And who really knows if any of this would have actually taken place. Maybe he would have checked out when he got married. There is no way of ever knowing. It's a reality I created. My own made up version of how my life would have been different. How the lives of the people that I love would have taken a different turn. I have options in my conjured up reality.

I like having options.

The hurt never stops. The tears will always come. But it becomes fewer and far between. It's a good reminder for me. Let the little things go. Everyone is human. We all make mistakes. Time is not guaranteed. Make sure you spend it wisely.

With Love,

Amy Marie


  1. So I just sat here and sobbed!

    Don't you love those dreams but hate to wake up? I have had two about my dad since he passed and I think 4 total of my brother.. It's like in you know that you should pay attention in your dream (or I do) and you cant figure out why you should pay attention.. When I saw my brother the last time he had aged, he had gray hair or sparkles.. he smiled at me but he was older.. it was perfect.

    I think I needed this... I think YOU needed this..

    With just losing my dad in April, when I read your words I re lived mine, I felt the pain in your words and when you said You didn't want to move and you stared in to nothing, I don't even know what to say.. but.. I totally get it. More than anything I want to tell you two things.. 1... I'm sorry you lost your daddy, I wouldn't wish the pain upon anyone, Im sorry your kids got robbed of someone that sounded amazing.. Some times we tend to have better relationships with people when we get older, Kinda like my brother, his birthday is today and how you feel robbed with your dad is how I feel robbed with Les, Like we were so close when I was little I know we would have been amazing, as an uncle when I was old enough to appreciate him as a brother & we would have been "siblings" I don't have that.. I feel as if I was "robbed" as you stated.. & #2 I love you, I love your story and Amy, I haven't known you as long as everyone else but I know your heart & please dont think for a second your dad didnt know your heart he made it :) He knew you loved him... he knew how you felt & he is & would be more than proud of the woman that you have become the choices that you have made and the mother that you are.. I sure know that I am blessed to have you as a best friend.

    But more than anything else, it's good to know when I feel alone, and when no one gets it.. that you do, I'm sorry you get it but in a way its nice to know that it's normal how I feel, and more than that it's okay.. I love you.

    At Amber's wedding when you couldn't watch the daughter daddy dance I didn't get it, I'm sorry I pushed you to stay in the room, that actually haunts me to be honest.. Like why did I make her stay? & what an asshole move.. Doing weddings I HATE that part, no.. I did get to dance with my dad at my wedding, but if any moment stands out to me its that one, when I was little he used to sing you are my sunshine to me.. and then 27 years later, he was back in to a child state of mind, and I was the grown up singing to him as we both cried.. at that moment life went full circle for me.. so, as weird as it is I want to say Im sorry I made you stay in there that day and you may not even remember but I've carried it around with me for a while now. - I love you.

    1. Thank you Crystal, for your kind, sweet words and understanding. I have to hope that what you and Alli say about my dad knowing how I felt is true. I have to believe that he knew I loved him. I'm almost positive I did tell him that on the last day that I saw him. It was sort of a game actually with him. We would say I love you as many times as we had to get him to say I love you back. He usually always said, "Ok, me too." Just like his dad, my grandpa, says to this very day. So I'm sure I said. At least once. And don't feel sad about the dance Crystal. You had no way of knowing how that would make me feel. I try every wedding I go to, and I'm going to keep trying. It just may not be my thing. But don't feel sorry about it. At all!! Thanks for reading this extremely long and heavy post and leaving me such a thoughtful comment. I know it hit home for you. I thought of you while I was writing it. You and everyone else I know that has lost someone special to them. I love you too!