Happy Birthday Dearest One

My father and I, we were two of a kind.

He walked the straight path — a character par excellence — being at the helm of the many areas in his life. Disciplined, strong, fearless: a few of the traits I inherited from him, even though it could be a mere illusion of mine. Save for his extrovert nature, the strength of connection plus my life-long allegiance to him spring from the qualities we share.

Dependable, hard-working, practical, candid: these are additional description of the man who took residence inside my heart for the longest time. He was a soul who coped with physical torments I’ll never be able to endure. Having witnessed everything he had gone through, I’ve known of no braver man.

There was, however, one thing both my father and I had always been afraid of: Death. The unknown destination even the most courageous of us could find frightening … and unthinkable. Death happens to us all, yes. Between my father and I, though unspoken, there was a comprehension of it being nothing more than a train of flatline to nowhere; an utter darkness; the absolute silence.

Almost three years has already passed since my dearest one died. I won’t lie by saying such duration has thus healed the wounds; the pain pounds as if I had lost him only yesterday. That I don’t give credence to life-beyond-death could have compounded my grief. It’s the heavy price I pay for being a non-believer.

But there had been nights when he would come into my dreams. In flesh and blood, he was there for me to hug. And I could press my cheek against his, while sobbing, begging for his forgiveness, telling him how much he has always meant to me. . . Then my eyes would open once again to another morning in this current world. 

Much of my life was spent waiting, searching for the love I thought I deserved; from lovers, friends, other blood relatives — which, of course I didn’t find. Wasted time it was … For there is no love on earth more transcendent or purer than a parent’s love, no matter how fervid our stance that there is.

My father couldn’t put me foremost in his heart because I wasn’t special enough. It engendered a quiet discontent, which caused my failure in discerning he lacked the means to bestow upon me any more tenderness than what he already had. What right does anyone have expecting for affection at least equal to their devotion?

But If he were still alive, I am certain he’d be the only person who might shed a tear for my present heartaches as a parent. Despite his stoic exterior, he’d still be the caring father that would flash eyes of compassion toward his daughter who, by turn of events, has undergone recent tribulations over her own child.

As I get older, I am starting to understand my father more — especially now that he’s gone. I could have appreciated him better. I could have regarded him a wonderful parent to a much greater extent, forgiven him further for not loving me the way I had wished him to.

Love that has the power to melt even the longest-standing resentment might come a bit too late. With my love for him more pronounced than before, what’s been left is the weight of my guilt and a pining for some mercy I cannot define.

On a moderate day during his last months, I deliberately sat beside my father to ask him if he could share to me stories from his past; Stories that would aid me in gaining a better sense of his history. Perhaps, by reason of his aging memory, he wasn’t able to share anything — or maybe he just wouldn’t…. I couldn’t help ruminating on the hard feelings he might have been harboring because I had failed him as a daughter in more than a few ways. Whatever caused his silence that day, it was heartbreaking on my part.

There was another staggering fact that hit me during his dying days and after his demise: He wasn’t loved in the manner I thought he was by the people he had trusted. The realization of how unwanted he actually was haunts me to this day. There had been people around him (including my sister and my mother) – yet he was practically all alone. I could have done something about it. But I didn’t.

No tears, no flowers, no amount of attention to his final resting place now can somehow diminish this much regret that I feel. So here I am — telling the world of my gravest mistakes, of how much I am still grieving, of how deeply I miss my dearest one.

There’s no question I look forward to the remaining gifts life still holds. I do allow for the sun’s rays to transpierce and rally my spirits while keeping my bearings intact; yet in the course of my tranquil mournfulness, there’s a little in me that keeps dying every single day.

In this special time of the year, I once again honor the only person who has truly ever loved me. My father. The one who will remain as the greatest love of my life.

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