A Letter (that went unanswered)

11/25/2014

Hi Dad,

Thanks for your card. I just laid down after a shower and a long day and hard few months and seeing your card was the best thing that could have happened to me.

It seems life passes us by and then in hard times we wonder what happened to the years. What words did we hold back? What thoughts did we want to express, but comforted ourselves by saying theres always another day. A better time. There’s never a better time. Life is never easy. Never.

These are my words.

I love you. You are so important to me. So many people never say enough or anything at all. When I think of you I think of a warm and safe place. A childhood that seems like a dream. Too perfect to be deserving. I remember the house. The yard. You coming home to play baseball with me. My dad. Everything was ok. No matter how bad or hard it got I always had my dad. And to be honest I still feel that way. Im an adult now. But the child that needs a dad is always in me. Years fade away. Faster and faster. Or maybe they are just catching up to me. Sometimes we need to stop and be still. Stillness to overcome the overwhelming experiences we gathered only to forget. The lessons that we learned won’t mean anything if we don’t say whats been on our minds. Eating us inside. The weight of things that are left unsaid.

I’m so sorry if I ever let you down, disappointed you, or went the wrong way sometimes. I know you’ll say I made you proud. What else could a father say. But I want to say I’ve always tried to follow my heart and find my way. I didn’t do it for myself but for you. For my dear, precious mother. Where I am today I have no regrets. I wish some things could be better. But we are human. We can only try.

The weight of things left unsaid has gotten to me just tonight. Years of carrying the weight. What I’ll say now might not be nice or comfortable or convenient, but I want to say it. For our family. For you. And hopefully for happiness and the fact that theres not always going to be another day.

A friend said to me the other night that she thinks our family is still in grieving. I might have laughed. In my head I thought all these years are too much to overcome. Too much to make sense of. Where could I possibly begin?

Many many years ago I knew very accutely that my mother’s passing would be the most profound thing in my life. Her death would define my life. Coming out on the other side, the pain and despair. It really is something. I look at peoples faces and can’t see that despair in them. They have it. Maybe more than me. But it’s so personal. I remember thinking that I had two brothers and a father that went through those years of cancer, yet each of us had completely different experiences and I couldn’t relate to them. For each of us they were so very personal. In a way, we were on our own and always will be. Life’s mystery.

To be honest, I remember the month and year after her death feeling very angry that no one acknowledged her death. No one wanted to talk about it with me. It hurt me and I wanted to talk about it with everyone. I couldn’t believe it. It was such a massive thing and we just carried on. It’s not right.

Today, we can talk about her life and who she was, but that’s just reminiscing. What does that do? It’s nice, but we need other things. I imagine if I said everyone should sit down together and talk to a professional about our experiences, everyone would roll their eyes and adjust themselves in their chairs. Pregnant silence.

I’ve never said that before or even thought about the idea of our family doing that, but now that I think of it I wonder what bad could possibly come from it. I’ve been through hell and back. I’m tough. I’m brave. I”m wiser today. What is it that stops us from going to these places. We’ve already been there? Can’t we return?

I’ve chosen my life overseas. Adjustments were made. If it’s Japan, or if I was living conveniently closer across the continent a handful hours away from everyone it shouldnt make a difference. I guess over the years I feel as if my family did less than me to keep in touch. I got tired of it. I didn’t make a concious decision not to keep in touch, but somehow my desire faded away. I don’t want to get into details to be argumentative. I just want to get it off my chest for my own sake. I don’t know, I guess there are many things I want to say, but I don’t know what they are, or maybe I don’t want to go there. We get too comfortable in age. Too comfortable with our wardrobe of experiences.

I can live with many many things. I can learn to accept. You don’t need to be a child to learn acceptance. Its never-ending. But I don’t  want to live  wondering what you felt, what my brothers felt. What anyone feels about anything. I don’t want that shame on me. I don’t want that to be my life’s mystery.

Our mystery has to be something better than that. We learned so much growing up as children and as men. We know about grace, laughter, sharing, comfort and unconditional love.

Put your words into the fire
Watch them burn your heart’s desire.
Rise up in the air.
In a cloud of silk and smoke and dust.
Fade into the night
It’s a comforting feeling with you at my side

Let me shake your honest hands
And Ill sit down beside you now
Lean our heavy heads
Of the weight of the things that are left unsaid
Don’t worry about it now
‘Cause in the morning they will all just be ashes on the ground

So whats been on your mind
Eating you inside
Taking all of your time
On this warm summer night
Put your words down in the fire

When we were down at the sandy beach
Old man talking in young man’s words
Tell me where you would like to be
Tonight don’t be afraid to dream
Lean on the fire for awhile
Cause in the morning it will just be ashes on the ground

I love you,
Mark

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