It's not something that comes up in casual conversation. I might say, when talking to another mom at the playground or a friend outside the grocery store, that I'm having a hard week or even that this Friday is the anniversary of my dad's death. The thing I almost never say is that I'm also grieving for the family of the man my dad killed-- the driver of the car he hit. My dad was a drug addict, and he was on heroin at the time.
See how it takes all of the air out of the room?
So, while I'm not trying to keep it a secret, it feels like a heavy, heavy secret. Plus, I have all of this grief-guilt, because, yes, my dad did something horrific, but I still love him, miss him, wish he were alive-- even alive in prison. I feel a need to tell people the facts before they feel too sorry for me, for him.
I never hear about people like me, but then again I don't watch a lot of TV, so maybe that's not saying much. I hear about the victims and the criminals, and once in a while, the parents of the criminals, whom I tend to want to blame if the criminals are young enough. I rarely hear about a convict's kids, his brothers and sisters, cousins. There are 2.3 million people incarcerated right now, so there must be others out there like me-- people who carry around this shame-laced love for the bad guy, but there are times when I think I may be the only one. Am I to blame as well? Should I have tried tough love, forced re-hab? This is the bargaining stage of grief, right? If I had only . . . .
It's enough to make me want to start a support group. I would have the acronym spell out an expletive-- because I tend to want to hurl a lot of expletives when these thoughts are swirling, which is most of the time lately.
June 12. I don't know why this date should be more significant than any other, really. My dad is not any more gone on this day. I guess it marks the passage of time, though. Two years. The grandson he never met is two years old. Two years since my dad called me at 6 a.m. and asked, "You still sleepin' , Fish Head?"
The Unitarian minister, this week, talked about the Alternatives to Violence program, of which she is becoming a leader. She said, and I'm paraphrasing: We can convict the guilty, but we should not condemn them. If we condemn them, they have no hope of self-redemption.
I'm trying to let go of my condemnation, but it's got a stone grip on my heart. Why should it matter, though? My dad is never going to become a better person.
A few nights ago I had a dream that my dad was holding me hostage. He had a gun, and he was pointing it at me. As usual, he didn't speak. Eventually the police came and took him away, but I kept screaming. Every time someone came near me, I screamed. Eventually my step-sister said, "Stop screaming. You know who I am."
I started shouting at her,"How am I ever going to trust anyone when the person I was supposed to trust the most was holding me hostage?"
But maybe I'm holding myself hostage.
Well, this is a bleak little post, so I'm going to end it with something happy. The laurels are in bloom once again. Today I spotted a fox wending in and out of the trees near our house, and driving home tonight we followed a slow, waddling skunk down the long dirt road. He was all white tail and no spray.
We were coming back from dinner, and Sweet P was crying (that's for another time), and Buckaroo asked her, "Are you crying, Sweet P? Are you OK? You want to hold my hand?"
And he held her hand all the way home.