whatever is done by only me is your doing“i carry your heart with me (i carry it in),” by e.e. cummings
My aunt once asked me which is harder: losing my mom or my dad? At the time, I replied that it wasn’t something that could be measured as bad vs. worse. There are variations in relationships,and while each loss was great, and there was no measuring the two against each other.
In a way, this remains true. I can’t think of the loss of either parent in terms of the theoretical conundrum, “Who would you save from the turbulent ocean, if you had only one life preserver?” Both were instrumental to my upbringing and well-being. Even after all this time, I miss both of them terribly.
I think the loss of my dad has been more poignant, however.
Look, my mom was a fantastic mom. If we were talking about buildings, she would be the walls, flooring, and decor that take a structure from being an abode to being a proper home. For many of my siblings, she might have also been the foundation. Actually, she was kind of that for me, too: steady, supportive, and the instrument that guided me towards critical thinking and navigating relationships.
My dad, however… My dad was like opening a book for the first time, and having the entire world spill forth from the pages and rewrite reality. He was the wild, verdant trails that bordered our backyard, and the endless expanse of cotton candy colored skies during sunset. While my mom taught me the rules of the world, my dad encouraged me to be the protagonist of my own epic adventure: the hero who abides by and is part of the moral code, and yet also something more.
More than anything, I feel like my dad saw me for who I am, and loved me for me. I’m not saying that my mom didn’t; I know that she tried really hard to reach me, connect with me. With my dad, though, it all felt so much more organic. He understood me, which is a huge thing for a child, and really, the core of any strength I have up to and including this very breath.
If I were to disappear right now, there wouldn’t be much of a record of how important my dad has been. I filled entire diaries (and many blog posts on long forgotten servers) in the years following my mom’s death. It was something I didn’t – don’t – feel capable of doing for my dad, because the loss was different. Maybe greater. He was, as I’d already stated, somebody who understood me, which is so very rare in this great big world, especially from a parent. I don’t mourn just my dad; I grieve for one of my best friends.
On that note, it’s time to wrap up this post and get on with my day before I start ugly crying. My dad would want me to do this (of course, he’d also want me to stop posting about my life on the internet, but geez… Compromise, right?), and as I keep telling myself whenever I’m down like this: “If I can’t get up for myself, get up and have enough of an adventure for him, too.”