I don’t really miss my Dad.
I deal with my father’s death one random day at a time.
One early June afternoon, I got a call from my big sister. She told me that she had something to tell me, her voice growing shakier with each word. She took a breath and told me that my father was dead.
The memory of that day just drifted in last Wednesday, rolling over my thoughts about what to make for dinner that night and how to respond to some work emails. It wasn’t even the anniversary of his death, or his birthday — nothing like that. In the five years between that phone call and last week, I can count on both hands the number of times I’ve thought of him, with some digits left to spare.
My parents were young lovers who split up when I was about six years old. Looking back on it, I never thought I went through any of the typical trauma of a “broken home.” I never felt abandoned or unloved. There was no ugly custody battles or the “who do you want to live with” conversations with a judge, like on TV. My dad just went from living with us, to just being around on the weekends, to then living with my Grandma at her house. I never thought of him as being “gone.” He just lived somewhere else, and that meant that I could go over to his house, hang out with my cousins and stay up late. And don’t even get me started about having TWO Christmases, birthdays, Easters, and Honor Roll celebration dinners! Being a kid was the best, and my dad was a big part — if not the creator — of the best memories of my childhood.
As I moved into middle and through high school, weekends turned into Saturday or Sunday afternoons. It made sense to me; I was more interested in hanging out with my friends, so being up under my dad like a little kid just didn’t appeal to me. I was fine with him calling less, not showing up to everything at school, and giving cards with cash instead of cool presents.
When I left for college, his appearances were even more scarce. Every visit or phone call was powered by that awkward energy used in large group icebreaker games. This guy that used to host these bomb-ass sleepovers on blankets in front of the TV was now a stranger to me. But, these encounters always ended with one or the other proclaiming that we had to be better about hanging out, or whatever.
And the years went by.
The calls started to replace the Christmases and birthdays. Soon calls were replaced by updates received second or…