Today is your Birthday, Dearest One

Christmas songs are being played everywhere again. This time, they do nothing for me. How can I feel anything when all they do is call to mind of last year’s December…the Christmas season when you started slipping away from me…that Christmas when The Inevitable finally laid its claim and pulled you away from this world of the living. My own world has turned over since then.

———-

Dearest one, there could be no truer and purer love than the one you gave me. I realize that now. Because you are my father and I am your daughter. Yet I failed you. Just like all your other children failed you. You knew it as much as I did. Even though none of them loved you as much I loved you – like them – I ended up turning my back on you. We were in denial of the most unbearable truths that haunt all our existence. But unlike your other children, I did feel your pain. What with your condition and the predicament that dragged on for more than twenty years. My own pathetic circumstances served as my excuse for my inability to attend to you. Then your resignation and downward spiral in your final stages had become too much for me to face. How could I have dealt with your eventual defeat after your valiant long-time battle with this thing called death? You had been so strong…yet time marched forward. I chose to render myself passive. I thought maybe it was time to let you go. Now I remain afflicted by this past. Still in agony of something I couldn’t have undone.

I remember you, my dearest one. How could I not feel this much hurt on losing you? All my life I have craved for your approval and, even more, your affections. I had wondered how a child could do alright growing up feeling she wasn’t important enough to the person who mattered most to her. The nights I cried myself to sleep; the nights my young heart took a whip every time you castigated me heavily for not bending to my elder sister unconditionally; for simply talking back to her during our petty sibling fights. Perhaps you took sides. Your indifference was something my fragile identity couldn’t grasp – when all I was pining for was the gentleness of your love. Those times when I had secretly wanted you to choose me as your dearest child; as the one most precious to your heart. Because you had never ceased being the center of my world. I adored you…even though you seemed oblivious of my presence. I was not beautiful, outgoing, smart, and talented enough. I couldn’t make you proud. Yet I basked in people’s perception that I mirror your physical image – plus your discipline and sturdy character. But those weren’t the things you needed to hear. What you delighted in was the pride you gained only my sister princess could provide. Still, my loyalty and devotion belonged to you. Your being around was the comfort I needed to get through life. You must have failed to take notice of the several nights whenever you came home; whenever you sat in front of the TV to watch your favourite series; when I’d sit anywhere in the back so I could see you and somehow be near you.

Through the years, a few more resentments slipped in. For the same prominent reason: how you never managed to place me closest to your heart. The thing I’d expected to happen in a someday that never came. My sister beat me to it – and later, your favourite granddaughter. I couldn’t bring myself to fully understand. They didn’t cherish you as much as I did. Again, my jealous heart was at work, blinding me to the reality I should have been grateful for. That you did love me the best you could, in your own way; just not in the manner I wanted. I had been unreasonably selfish.

Although we had said our I-love-yous, I should have asked for your forgiveness and expressed my deepest regret for not spending enough time with you on the last few months of your life. I was not even there on your last birthday on earth. How it slipped my mind was beyond me. It was unforgivable, I know. It’s too late now to say how sorry I am… Your departure, along with my failings, nabbed a massive part of me which has vanished into eternity. There are days when all I want is to sleep my heartache away. This sorrow currently breathing into my being I completely deserve; I have only myself to blame.

I could have done more for you as a dutiful daughter and out of my devotion to you. Yet I didn’t do that. Compared to what you had given me and done for me, I did very little for you- nearly nothing in fact. But you spared me of any accusations in the end and even commended me – for the tiniest deeds that deep down I knew didn’t deserve merit. Maybe I got the love I had wished for after all.

Dearest one, not too long ago you asked me to visit you on your gravesite from time to time after your demise, and I said I would. Since you were laid to rest, I’ve been there a mere couple of times. I broke down helplessly each time. Perhaps I had not been ready. You have been in my life and in my heart for so long; it’s still tormenting to see your name on a tombstone, imagining you lifeless six feet under while I am up here breathing the air we both used to share when you were still alive. I asked that you give me more time in learning to accept you are truly gone.

Today though, I am to visit your resting ground again. In reverence of the bravest man I have ever laid eyes on; in honor of the man whom I owe my life to.

———

There will be a place in my heart and in my mind where I will always find you. A most special place harbouring the memory of you and me, as father and daughter…with the kind of love ever present between us that I hope will sustain me until the end of my days.

Happy Birthday, my dearest father.

 

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