Eleven days ago, I was sitting in front of my computer while I was waiting for my (new) friend Bethany to answer her phone at the local hardware store. It was a Saturday, so I knew it would take a while, but I needed to check on an order. I’m not good at just sitting doing nothing while I wait; so, I decided to check my emails while I waited, and as I scrolled through them to see if there was anything important, I saw an email that made my heart skip a beat.
I clicked on it and when the email opened, I saw that I’d been tagged along with some of my biological family. It was surreal because as you know most of my family hasn’t talked to me in years, yet here I was tagged in an email.
As the “spinning wait cursor,” or “beach ball;” as some people call it, started to spin I wondered to myself if it was the news I had been waiting for?
I realize that some of you might think that’s a horrible thing to say, but please don’t judge me. Most of the people following me, and reading my blogs, know how I’ve been treated by most of my family, and they get it. But, and it’s always a big but, if you haven’t been following me, you might not understand my reaction so I’m going to suggest you check out some of the links below before reading on.
Anyway, when the spinning wait cursor stopped turning, there in front of me was an email that said,
We heard the news about Uncle Steven last night. Sending special love to you all this morning. I don’t have email addresses for everyone so hope you’ll pass it on.
Love and hugs,
At the same time, I was processing what I just read, I heard Bethany’s voice say ‘hello,’ and instead of saying it back to her, I uttered the words, “I think my father died.” I heard Bethany say what, and that brought me back to the task at hand and instead of repeating what I had just said, I asked her when my order for kitchen cabinets would be coming in.
She asked me to hold the line while she checked, so I took advantage of the opportunity and quickly typed a reply to James asking how my father died? Shortly after I’d sent my reply, Bethany came back on the line and told me my cabinets would be arriving the end of the week. I distractedly thanked her and hung up the phone. All I could think about was the email because part of me knew what it meant, but I needed to know for sure.
An hour went by, and I just couldn’t seem to concentrate on anything except for the email, and I found myself checking every half hour to see if there was a response from James, but there was nothing.
As I watched the hours tick by, I became aware of a persistent feeling in my gut and I knew there wouldn’t be any more emails. A couple years back I had been told by someone in my family that certain members of our family were concerned that I would show up at said family member’s funerals when they died, so I totally expected the silence.
Days went by and still, nothing, no phone calls from anyone in my biological family; not even my kids, and I felt completely alienated. I thought there would be people that would reach out after hearing the news about my father, but like it was with James, there was only silence and it felt like a huge betrayal to me.
Over the next three days, I googled Steven’s full name at least twice every day to see if there was anything about his death, but it wasn’t until the fourth day an obituary finally appeared.
As I opened it and started reading the words in front of me, I realized I was holding my breath. So many people had told me that I would miss him when he was gone, that I would have regrets but as I started reading, I knew that wasn’t the case. The first sentence was that Steven had died peacefully at a hospice close to where he lived, so that meant he had suffered in the last hours, if not months before his death and I didn’t really need to read anymore, but I did.
I read things in that obituary that I’d never heard from anyone in our family and it reminded me how much of an outcast I’ve always been. Honestly, I had no idea that my father launched the first ever design program to Humber College in Ontario Canada, or that he’d hob-knobbed with Hollywood royalty, like Katherine Hepburn, Gary Cooper & Spencer Tracy. Furthermore, I had no idea that he had flown all over Africa as a Royal Air Force (RAF) pilot or that his family was so influential because apparently, he learned how to fly a plane in 1942 (during World War II!!) and he was only twelve years old!
But I digress…
After I’d read the obituary, I got up from the computer, walked into the bathroom and shut the door behind me. It was as automatic as putting a car into first gear, and I can’t remember a time in my life when I haven’t done it; it’s almost like I’m ashamed to show my feelings.
What’s worse is sometimes I can’t cry unless I get into the shower and turn the water on, but that day, I sat on the seat of the toilet and started to whimper immediately. Then my whimpering turned into sobs and my sobs turned into blubbering and as I sat there with tears running down my face, I started to think I’d lost complete control of my senses because I cried for hours.
Not because I was sad about my father’s death, but because I was sad for me. Sad that things hadn’t been different between him and me, and sad knowing that nothing can or will ever change that because now he’s gone.
…but, and like I mentioned earlier it’s always a big but; I don’t have any regrets. I feel stronger than I have in decades, and the sense of freedom knowing that he can never criticize or lie about me (ever again!) has given me this incredible feeling of elation, and I’m going to run with that …like the friggin’ wind!
Stay safe and stay strong. Thanks for following.
**Names have been changed to protect certain individuals.