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One Year Later

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It was a year ago, almost to the minute as I write this, that my father and I exchanged our last words together over the phone. Little did I know that less than two days later he'd be dead from the complications of Covid. I've been feeling anxious as this day approached, recalling our last conversation, the breathless exhaustion he was feeling as he laid on the floor, unable to find the strength to get up. The Covid diagnosis would come the next day, and he was dead less than 12 hours after they sent him home from the hospital.

I don't dwell on my dad's passing, but I do reflect on his last words to me before he hung up, as he told me in no uncertain terms that he loved me, a rarity for him in our phone calls. There was almost a desperation in his voice, as if he somehow suspected that his situation was dire. In the past year I have put my thoughts down in a journal, the good and the not so good. In September my siblings and I gathered at a military cemetery to honor him (his wife didn't invite us to his memorial), and I got up to speak off the cuff. I told the small crowd (an honor guard and some small number of friends), that he was imperfect, that we had our differences, but that I'd made my peace with it. He was flawed as a man and as a father, but I pointed out that most of us have our flaws. In the end, I know that he loved me and was proud of the man I'd become, even if he seldom could express those words out loud. 

So today has been melancholy, just as I expected it would be. The rainy weather didn't help. I feel some sadness, but more so for what could have been a better relationship if things had been different over the years.

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I feel so many emotions for this as I read it, my mom was not a mom I would have chosen (she was very mentally off all her life and abusive) but I loved her and am proud of sticking with her to the end even though it was very hard sometimes.  I am proud of YOU for how you've come to handle this, for you and your sibling creating your own "memorial" for that is what it is.  It's unconscionable to me that your "stepmother" excluded you from his service!  That you chose to do this with your siblings speaks volumes.  High above all else rides the last conversation he had with you!  I am so glad he finally gave voice to it.  I never got that from my mom but I do know she loved me, even if she didn't show/voice it most of the time.

These regrets are not ours to have, they belong to them, and are gone with the wind now.  We did our best in the face of a difficult situation, sometimes without a roadmap, wanting to be a good son/daughter, but also needing to draw boundaries.  You can be proud of yourself.

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Thank you for your kind words. I found this first anniversary as emotionally difficult as I'd imagined. Today while out on a walk, I was triggered by a song that did the same thing last year and the tears flowed once more. I almost think I need to let those emotions flow, and while it was only a brief period, I wiped the tears away and chose not to dwell on the sadness. In writing in my journal, it's helped me to sort out my feelings on our relationship over the years. I have focused on the good as well as the not so good, and it's helped me to see him as the complete, imperfect man he was. 

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19 hours ago, PhotoGuy said:

it's helped me to see him as the complete, imperfect man he was.

That is key, right there!  Also, forgiving...that doesn't mean the wrong things were okay or acceptable, but it lets go of their ability to take your power...when we harbor unforgiveness, it changes us, it's helped me to learn what it is not before I could understand what it is.  Accepting the whole of the person esp.. helps us from a standpoint of the loss of them, we can remember the good, forgive the bad, knowing when at last we are with them again, they will be who they were meant to be, not their imperfections.

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