Life and Death

Dear M,

I don’t know what to do, so I am writing you. I sent your father an email for Father’s Day telling him how much you looked up to him and how much it made you happy when you made him proud. Your mother wrote me back a week later basically telling me in a “nice-ish” way (for her, at least) to not contact your father again because it is too hard for him and she also told me that your official cause of death was concluded to be a “heart attack caused by hypertension brought on by alcohol abuse” and she hopes that brings me some closure. Something still felt off with that, but I knew it was very plausible, especially with your history of high blood pressure.

Last weekend, my sister and I were at a store and ran into your uncle. As you know, he is just an open (very talkative) book and he told us that you died from an overdose of pills. When I managed to ask if it was on purpose, he said, “oh yeah, there was a note and everything….” I swear, it was the closest I ever came to passing out. I could not get out of that store fast enough. My sister was so upset, too.

What. The. Actual. Fuck?

My head has been spinning ever since. Without question, the most difficult aspect of your death is not knowing the details. Since day one, all I have wondered is when you died, how you died, how long you were alone, did you know what was happening, did you suffer? Those questions have plagued me. Not knowing how you died has made it very hard to move on or to properly grieve you. There is just no closure, especially without a service or obituary or anything to memorialize you.

But this? This is a whole new thing. You dying of a heart attack (or any other medical reason from years of alcohol abuse) is VERY different than you choosing to take your own life. And that means it is possible your mother has been lying to me for five months. I know you are rolling your eyes and thinking about how much she sucks, but can she really be THAT awful? I need to know the truth.

And a note? A NOTE??????? I feel like if I am in that note, I have a right to know that. I know that we were not together, but I took care of you for the almost decade we were together and then some. Even after I ended our romantic relationship, I was still the one who was taking you to the doctor and helping you when your family was in another state. I know, without a glimmer of doubt, that I was the closest person to you EVER in your life and yet I am the one who is being kept in the dark about your death.

Everyone keeps telling me that HOW you died does not change anything…that you are still gone. I understand that, I truly do. But, things have changed in my mind and I cannot just accept not knowing the truth. I just don’t know how to get it.

The “Do Nothing”s

to-do-list-nothing

My drunk father is back with a vengeance.  One thing I definitely did not miss during his two years of sobriety was his pervasive intrusion and paranoia.  Now when I call my parents’ house, he either answers the phone and monopolizes the conversation or he secretly listens while my mom and I talk (his heavy breathing gives him away).  He opens any and all mail delivered to their house, regardless of who it is addressed to (I remember never being able to open my own mail growing up).  I have him blocked on Facebook, but he goes on my mother’s tablet and logs into her account to be able to look at my page (and then emails me about the things he reads).  He is just out of control.  This time I am farther removed from it…having moved out of their house over a decade ago, but I am still exposed to it almost daily because my mother still lives with him and she and I are so close.

One of the things I hated the most about my father growing up is a strange complaint.  He wrote on EVERYTHING.  That mail I mentioned? Not only was it open, he would write “notes” on the envelope. “Who is this from?” or “Opened 12/10/98, 4:34 pm” or “Junk Mail”.  He did it on manuals for new electronics, newspaper articles he printed from the internet, etc.  But he also wrote elaborate, repetitive, insulting notes out by hand and would leave them on the counter for my mother- in his in all capitals print.  SO MUCH WRITING.  His most famous medium was Post-it notes.  Oh god, they were everywhere.  I would come home after school to Post-it notes on the front door, kitchen counter, by the phone…anywhere you could stick one.  I jokingly sent my childhood golden retriever into the family room covered head to tail in Post-it notes once to make my mom laugh.  It’s crazy what starts to become normal after you have lived with it for so long.  Then came…the photocopy machine.  That really upped his note game.  My father would write out notes all over a piece of paper and then make 20 copies of it to spread around the house. You literally could not get away from them (because they were sometimes stuck under the windshield wiper blade on my car).

I recently bought my mother a calendar blotter to put near their home phone.  My dad was always complaining he never knew what she was doing, so I figured she could write down doctor’s appointments and stuff on it (she is also becoming a little forgetful, but that’s another story).  Yesterday while we were shopping, she mentioned she needed to buy a calendar and I was confused.  I asked her what happened to the one I got her.  She somewhat reluctantly confessed that my father wrote all over it.  I assumed she meant his typical BS, but I asked what he wrote.  Apparently, he filled in the block for each day with a handwritten “DO NOTHING”.  That is my father’s favorite insult for all of us- we are a bunch of do nothings (my sister and I are do nothing takers).  I’m not sure why hearing my mom tell me this affected me so much- I would like to think I am pretty immune to my father’s ridiculous behavior and verbal abuse or that at a minimum that I am good at trying to not care.  I guess I adapted to having a sober father surprisingly easy and now it is a readjustment to have this guy back.  It just sucks.  Sorry, that’s not great writing and I would tell my high school students to think of a more elegant way to express that feeling if they wrote that in an essay, but it does.  It just sucks.

So, one of my new year’s resolutions will be to just distance myself from my father again.  No more calls, less visits, ignoring his emails.  I tried with him so hard and for so long and now I need to refocus my efforts on other areas of my life.  As far as my father is concerned, in 2016, I will live up to my nickname and will be a proud “Do Nothing” 😉