This week I have been remembering my dad. His body was found nine years ago this month, setting in motion a chain of events which changed the dynamics of my family forever, bringing long-buried feelings to the surface for many of us. My dad was a polarizing figure in our family. He struggled with his addictions, and rode the roller coaster of mental illness for most of his adult life, taking everyone around him on the same stomach-dropping ride, whether we wanted to or not.
I've been working on a memoir about my relationship with my dad, and I'm grateful for the time and space I have had from him to let the memories settle around me. It's like sifting through rubble, and finding tiny nuggets of gold to hold onto among the dirt and ash. There were many good things about my dad, and I love being able to remember them, holding the precious memories in my hand and feeling grateful for what he was able to give me.
The not-so-good times also live in my memory, but the sting of the hurt fades as the years roll on, and I am left with the choice to forgive and move on, or nurse my grievances like they are babies. After doing both, I know I prefer to let go and carry on with my life. People cannot give what they do not have inside of them to offer, including myself, and I must extend grace in order to avoid bitterness and dry rot in my own soul.
At some point we must all come to terms with our childhoods, whether they were of the Norman Rockwell variety or not, and move into adulthood accepting that our parents did the best that they could. I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that my dad loved me, to the best of his ability, and that knowledge is enough for me now in a way that it wasn't sufficient before. I love remembering him, and in that way no one is dead and gone forever, because what they gave us becomes part of us, and lives on.
What was once hidden away inside of my soul is now emerging slowly into the light. I'm not afraid of the power of my emotions anymore, and the choking fear that was my everyday companion is loosening its hold on me. Freedom is the result of this discovery; for myself and from the many reasons I kept all of this hidden away for so long. Not anymore.
I can live as me now, out in the world, and all of the experiences which have formed me are mine to remember and own. I hope to honour the memory of my dad by writing about the story he and I shared together. For now, that is enough to keep me writing, and remembering, and continuing on my journey.