(TW: death, rape, childhood trauma)
On the 13th of June, 2014, my Dad passed away from advanced lung cancer. He was 69 years old.
I found out about his death from my mother, via an email on Facebook. Don't judge - I live in England, while the rest of my family live in The United States of America; Facebook is pretty much the only way they can contact me. Mom also has cancer, but unlike my Dad, she hasn't given up and is fighting it with every ounce of stubbornness she possesses - which believe me, is a very large amount.
When I read Mom's message, I experienced a bit of shock, as you can probably imagine. The knowledge that someone you knew from a very early age has died always comes as a shock, the death of a family member even more so. If this was a typical story, one would probably expect the next few paragraphs of this blog entry to say what a great man my Dad was and how much I grieve his passing and that I'm going to miss him terribly.
This isn't a typical story.
To be perfectly honest, I haven't grieved at all. Not one tiny bit. When, a few weeks ago, I learned that he had cancer, I did cry. It wasn't a "I'm sad because my Dad has cancer" thing though, but rather an "I'm crying because I should be sad, but I'm not and everything inside of me says I should be so I'm really confused" thing.
To those of you reading this who are thinking "What an unfeeling, uncaring bastard." - I'm not a sociopath and had it been anyone else in my family who had died, I would still be in extreme mourning. It just so happens however, that the person who died was my Dad and well, I just don't feel sadness at his passing.
Don't get me wrong, I have lots of good memories of my Dad. He got me interested in Dungeons & Dragons and table-top games, he bought me my first games console, he taught me how to ride a bike, and he loved roller coasters and going to Six Flags Theme Park in Eureka, Missouri as much as I did. But sadness at him dying? Nope. Not even a sliver.
I've actually been puzzling about this over the last few days, because society demands that we mourn over the loss of our loved ones. It was while reading Laurell K. Hamilton's A Shiver of Light earlier this evening, that I realised exactly why I haven't grieved and probably will never do so.
I mourned the loss of my Dad back when I was a kid.
When I was between the ages of 9 and 10 years of age (I can't say exactly how old I was because I've found that my memories from 7 - 13 years old are quite hazy and indistinct), my Dad moved back to the state of Missouri from a 2 - 3 year stint of living in Florida. My parents split up when I was 7 - 8 years old; my sisters and I stayed with our Mom in Missouri while my Dad moved to Florida. Their divorce was finalised soon after he came back.
It was during this time that my Dad sexually molested me. Actions which continued off and on until I was 13 years old and a series of events put him in prison for a total of 10 years. It was at this point that I grieved over the loss of a parent. From the moment he took the last bits of my innocence - that is when I lost my Dad.
The grieving process lasted years for me, even though it's only now that I realise that's what I was going through. All the stages of grief and mourning were there (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance), but neither I nor any one around me at the time picked up on it. These stages followed me well into my late 20's and early 30's; some of them repeating several times, due to all the self-confidence and self-doubt issues his actions caused me.
I've already grieved. Not only over the loss of my Dad, but also over the loss of myself because to claim that what happened didn't change who I am would be lying. My entire being - everything that makes me ME - changed on the day my paedophile father decided to act out his perverse fantasies on me.
Everyone else in my family can mourn his death; it's their right to do so. But the man who died? He wasn't my father and hadn't been for a very long time.
It's funny how a make-believe world can show you truths.