Friday, May 1, 2015

Nightfall

"I wake up at the dawning of your nightfall. You couldn't find your way back to the light."


When I wrote those lines of a poem 8 years ago, when we last talked, I was wondering if I would ever see you again. I was disappointed, mostly, not because I had been lied to, but because I couldn't really believe what everybody said about you - that you were an addict, about the things you had done, and the kind of person you were. To me, you were someone entirely different. I just couldn't believe them.

The only thing that ever gave me any consolidation were my mum's words when she said "If there has ever been anything that made him hold it together, it was you." Yet it was not long after my birth that you divorced. I never realized how much you hurt her, how she must have felt during that time. She did an awfully good job hiding it all and making me grow up completely oblivious. But some credit goes to you too - I never would have guessed, never would have known the reason for your divorce, if she hadn't told me around the time of my 16th birthday, that day when you called and cried and apologized for being a bad father. I was so confused, because to me, you never were a bad father or even a bad person. To me, you were my dad. But I realize now that the person I knew and the person everyone else knew were two very different people.

Yet, I also grew up all those years wondering if I was actually ever "wanted". My mum was pregnant when she married you, so my first thought was that having me was not "planned". When I learned the details of the divorce, I thought that even more. And for a long, long time I thought my mother really would have been off so much better if she would have had an abortion instead of having me. Only a few years ago I learned that you two actually wanted to have a family. You wanted to have a child, maybe children. You wanted to switch from military service to police. Sometimes I wonder how all our lives would have been if these dreams had all come true.

But alas. Here I am. An only child. My mother remarried. When she married my step dad in 2004, a man whose own children are 10 years older than me and who was probably not entirely prepared and willing to fulfill a father role for another little girl, I was totally lost. I just wanted a normal family, but the early years of this patchwork family were not always easy and I often felt alone and did not know what to do. For a long time, I really thought my mother would be better of without me. That my step dad would love her more if I wasn't in the way of their relationship, or something like that. I felt guilty for existing, I thought I had ruined her life, and probably yours too, simply because I was born.

And you, you tried your best to be a father, I guess. I think you did a fairly good job. All the more surprised I was to find out one day that you probably never paid a cent of alimony for me, that you were an alcoholic, a gambler, and that more than once you could not keep your promises to my mum and canceled meetings with me, like that one time when you apparently lost your license for a while for drunk driving. But I never noticed. I never knew. And honestly, once I knew I was more confused than angry or sad. I was wondering, if I had just been blind all these years, because I could not understand how all of this was possible - that the man that I knew as my father was the same man I heard all those awful stories about.

I think many of my darkest demons were born in those days. When I looked into the mirror and saw only your face, instead of my own. And I wondered if my mother saw me like that too - as your child, the child she had with you, the mistake she had made while being with you. It broke me. It tore me apart, all those years. Finding out that I having me had been "planned" was a relief, but it did not undo all the damage. And I spent years not being able to see myself in the mirror, and even today I sometimes can't - no matter how much people tell me I look like my mother's side of the family.

Over those years, you wasted away like a slowly dying flower. In retrospect, it was like watching a slow motion train wreck. I knew the day would come. The only question was, would I muster the courage to call out for you before the trains collide, or would I be too late.

Turns out, I was too late.

When my mother called me last week to tell me that you were in hospital again, and not in a good shape, well, I remembered how a few years back you had your first stroke and it was basically the same - the same call, the same "They don't know if he'll make it" and the same "I just wanted to let you know" and the same assertive and supportive words from her and my boyfriend. I guess I thought it would be the same again this time. That I wouldn't have to decide on anything, that I would probably get another chance, another year, another decade to worry about all this. But before I could even figure out if I should write you a letter, I received another call, and it was too late.

And I just don't know how to feel about all this.
Some people probably think I should be sad, or angry, or I don't know what. All I can say is, to some extent, I am relieved, because I won't ever have to face any decision regarding you again, watching it pass slowly before my eyes, unable to move, completely paralyzed and terrified to decide on ANYTHING. I am relieved because it means that if I ever get married, I won't have to ask myself I want to invite you. I won't have to think about you every Christmas, every November at your Birthday, at Father's day, my own birthday (which I actually never really enjoyed again after my 16th birthday, when we last talked), won't have to wonder every time I achieve something in life if I should let you know and write you a letter.

I really thought about writing you a letter, you know, when I heard you were in hospital. But I didn't know what to write. If I had written that I wasn't mad for you not writing back the last time I tried to reach out - would you have thought it was a hidden accusation? If I had written that I probably can't visit because I would like to remember you as the person you were to childhood me, instead of the person you had become over the last years, would it have made you sad? If I had written, would you have even read it? Were you even thinking of me over these years? At all?

I don't know. And I thought I don't care anymore, but apparently I still do. Because your death shook me so hard that I messed up my work and was awkward and agitated all week. I couldn't even bring myself to tell my boss that the reason I can't come to work on Saturday was your funeral. I couldn't handle the fact that I cared so much more than I have ever thought. 

And nobody I talked to really understood how I feel - I don't expect them, because I honestly don't know myself. Some people are like "I get it, it must be weird to lose your father without really knowing him" or "You are allowed to cry, you lost your father after all".
But neither of it is completely true.

The thing is, I do not cry because I lost you. I cried a lot these days, about some sad song on the radio, I almost cried at work a few times because of something my boss or a colleague said or because I dropped stupid ethanol spray bottle. But I did not cry for you.

It was not my father who died. It was the last hope of you ever becoming the person you used to be again.

So yes, I guess I am sad. I am disappointed, maybe a bit angry - mostly at myself - and I hate all of this. I wish I could make it all go away, all the unhappiness, the stress, the tension. But the thing with these situations is - when you think, on a whim, "I wish I could turn back time" or something like that - you realize that there is no point in time you could successfully go back to to stop all of this from happening. Nobody could have stopped this. Especially not me. Not by being not born, not by being stronger and reaching out sooner. I think you chose your fate a long time ago, and all I can hope for is that in those 53 years you had on earth, at least some of them were filled with happiness, and that there are some people out there, who will remember you the same way that I'll do.

Not as that broken shell of a person that years of addiction and disease made out of you, but the man my mother fell in love with. The man who went to Kosovo for a peace keeping mission, and smiles from a photo wearing his ceremonial white uniform with toddler-me on his arm. The man who always seems to have a smirk on his lips and taught me to play tennis and bought post cards for my mum when I stayed for a week or two in summer, and bought me all the glitter stickers the shop had as well, and who helped pick which ones to decorate the post card with. The man who spent half of the night awake with me, reading books and Asterix comics, and never told me to turn off the light to get some sleep, because it was during vacation anyway. The man who played real-time strategy computer games with me and helped lay the ground for my love of computer games. The man who was probably the only person I knew who understood my passion for the Latin language, who translated the inscription of the One Ring to Latin for me as a little gift and game when I was in my LotR fan-phase. The man who created amazing art and took interest in so many things that it would seem to me whenever we talked, he had found a new passion that he was excited about.

That is the man I will remember. The man whom I would have loved to tell about my work, with whom I would have loved to share my own passion for science and art. The man I have been missing for 8 years now, and whom I now have no chance of ever getting back again.

Farewell, Dad. My hope died last.


4 comments:

  1. Ich kann wahrscheinlich nicht alles verstehen, aber bei ein paar Sachen gehts mir wirklich ähnlich. Bis zu einem gewissen Punkt habe ich meinen Vater auch abgöttisch geliebt, bis ich verstanden habe, wie er eigentlich war. Jetzt vermisse ich auch nicht meinen Vater, sondern die Person für die ich ihn gehalten habe, bzw die er wahrscheinlich für mich gespielt hat. Das kann ich also, glaube ich, verstehen.
    Alles andere zu dem Thema, was ich jetzt sagen würde und könnte ist wahrscheinlich viel zu privat für den Kommentar. Wenn du also magst können wir gern privat drüber schreiben. Ich lass die Entscheidung bei dir, je nachdem was besser für dich ist. Alles Liebe <3

    ReplyDelete
  2. liebe varis,
    es tut mir leid zu höre, dass es dir so schlecht geht. du solltest dir aber die zeit nehmen, alles zu verarbeiten. ganz egal, was andere sagen, schließlich sind es deine gefühle.
    andererseits ist es doch schön zu lesen, dass du auch gute erinnerungen an ihn hattest und er dich in einigen dingen geprägt hat.
    ich hoffe, dass es dir bald besser geht. vergiss nicht all die positiven erinnerungen an deinen vater.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Sehr bedrückend zu lesen und ich muss zugeben, ich kann es leider tatsächlich nicht nachvollziehen und das in ganz verschiedenen Richtungen. Ich weiß nicht wie man sich hier fühlt, oder wie man mit so einer Situation umgehen soll. Ich kann nicht mal erahnen wie es dir da in den letzten Jahren so ergangen ist. Ich für meinen Teil würde es vermutlich schrecklich finden und ich wäre unfassbar enttäuscht. Ich kann auch nicht nachvollziehen wie ein Vater sich bei seinem Kind nicht mehr melden kann. Ich vermute es war eine Art von Scham. Anders kann ich es mir einfach nicht erklären. Ich für meinen Teil kann nur sagen, ich würde immer versuchen meiner Tochter ein guter Vater zu sein. Ich wäre immer für sie da. Das schreibt sich jetzt vielleicht leicht, aber das spüre ich ganz tief in mir selbst. Das Gefühl, wenn ein Kind dir in die Augen blickt und Papa, oder Mama zu dir sagt und du weißt, dass für den Rest deines Lebens dein primäres Ziel sein wird dieses Kind zu lieben, zu beschützen und zu unterstützen, dass ist ein Gefühl, welches mit nichts in der Welt vergleichbar ist. Ich wünsche dir auf jeden Fall viel Kraft für die nächste Zeit und hoffe für dich, dass je mehr Zeit vergeht die positiven Erinnerungen um ein vielfaches die schlechten überlagern werden.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Sehr bedrückend zu lesen und ich muss zugeben, ich kann es leider tatsächlich nicht nachvollziehen und das in ganz verschiedenen Richtungen. Ich weiß nicht wie man sich hier fühlt, oder wie man mit so einer Situation umgehen soll. Ich kann nicht mal erahnen wie es dir da in den letzten Jahren so ergangen ist. Ich für meinen Teil würde es vermutlich schrecklich finden und ich wäre unfassbar enttäuscht. Ich kann auch nicht nachvollziehen wie ein Vater sich bei seinem Kind nicht mehr melden kann. Ich vermute es war eine Art von Scham. Anders kann ich es mir einfach nicht erklären. Ich für meinen Teil kann nur sagen, ich würde immer versuchen meiner Tochter ein guter Vater zu sein. Ich wäre immer für sie da. Das schreibt sich jetzt vielleicht leicht, aber das spüre ich ganz tief in mir selbst. Das Gefühl, wenn ein Kind dir in die Augen blickt und Papa, oder Mama zu dir sagt und du weißt, dass für den Rest deines Lebens dein primäres Ziel sein wird dieses Kind zu lieben, zu beschützen und zu unterstützen, dass ist ein Gefühl, welches mit nichts in der Welt vergleichbar ist. Ich wünsche dir auf jeden Fall viel Kraft für die nächste Zeit und hoffe für dich, dass je mehr Zeit vergeht die positiven Erinnerungen um ein vielfaches die schlechten überlagern werden.

    ReplyDelete

Want to comment?
If you have no google+ account, you can use Open ID (for example with an URL of your twitter, homepage etc.)
Anonymous commenting is disabled, but feel free to contact me via ask.fm if you have no means of commenting here :)