Open Hearts

In the movie “Hope Floats” Sandra Bullock’s character says, “Childhood is what you spend the rest of your life getting over”. If there ever was a line that summed me up, that would be it LOL.
This is my all-time favourite picture of my dad and I together. I can feel the tears welling as I begin to write about him. The love I feel for this man runs beyond deep. I am four in this picture and he is 30. Within 18 months of this picture being taken he had died of pancreatic cancer. I can’t quite believe that i haven’t seen or touched him in nearly 38 years. I speak to him often; I can’t help but not. I talk to him about his grandaughters and how I missed not having him be in their lives and how much they would have loved him. I know he loves and watches over them even though they will never know him in a physical sense. I make sure my daughters know him through my stories; his picture is always in our home. I tell him how my life has been incomplete without him. I tell him of my dreams and aspirations. I tell him how much I want to be the first in our family to attain a doctorate degree. I tell him how much I miss him. There is a hole in my heart that will never be filled. I will never get over his leaving, but I manage my grief. I still have a reoccuring nightmare that I have had since he died. When I have it, it leaves me feeling listless and empty. I usually wake up sobbing. Nigel has, in the past, woken me up during it so that I’m not trapped in its depths. The dream is situated in the hospital, he is about 100 meters ahead of me. I’m trying to catch up to him, but he is always that bit too far away and disappears around a corner. I chase, but am never able to catch up. He’s always just out of reach. The latter versions have included a bus stop. He gets on the bus and I miss the bus and he’s gone and I’m left alone at the bus stop. I don’t need to be told of the psychologcal aspects of this dream…i’ve studied child development and I am well aware of the abandonment aspects to this dream and how I feel about his death. I am well aware that he didn’t choose to die, never wanted to leave us, fought hard to stay but in the end lost the battle. Even with this knowledge, I still feel abandoned. What I feel and what I know are two entirely different things. One is rational and the other is irrational. But it’s the way I feel: have always felt. The feeling of abandonment has impacted every relationship I have ever had with men. I keep parts of myself away, for no one to touch. Nigel knows this, and accepts that I give what I can. He knows that he has more of me than anyone before him and I’m thankful that he cherishes what I can give and doesn’t dwell on what I can’t. I love him in the best way that I know how; it may not be perfect, but its the best I can do. I constantly work hard at being emotionally available to him. He says I am getting better at it as time goes on. That acknowledgement allows me to forgive myself for what I have to work at giving; that others can just freely give. Strangely enough I have no problem giving all of myself to my daughters. The depth of love I feel for them is deep; so deep it scares me. They and my dad are the only ones I love fearlessly.

This picture is my parents during his illness. It was a very swift period of illness from diagnosis to death; just six months. I have strong vivid memories of this time and the rest of my childhood that was filled sadness, uncertainty, distrust and, insecurity. I got lost. I had no anchor to tie me to a safe place in the storm that was my childhood. Even though my mother and 3 older brothers were physically there, I was emotionally alone. I’m not sure I can ever forgive her for emotionally, and for a short time physically, abandoning me when I needed family and love. I know she was grieving for him, but that’s no excuse. And it’s certainly no excuse for the things that continued to happen after. I have done all the therapy I care to do, to work through the residual issues. There’s only a certain amount of time that I want to spend in a professional’s office working through all this. In the end, it is how I feel and I am entitled to feel my feelings whether or not others want to acknowledge my experience of my childhood. It is, what it is. I did not ask for my experience of childhood; it’s what I got, there were no choices to be had; I was a passenger in my own childhood, as most of us are. I just got a shitty one. I know rationally I need to find peace and forgiveness; I can assure you, i’ve been searching for both for a long time. I wish I could find them. Maybe they will come to me, maybe they won’t. I continue to move forward anyway because I refuse to let my past rule my future.
I only had close to 6, way too short years, with my dad. I remember him as a big, strong, funny wonderful man. I always felt loved by him. He is in my heart every minute of every day and will be forever more. I am his suziwong.
Dad, I love you and miss you with all my heart.
I will never forget you
This entry was posted in family.

4 thoughts on “Open Hearts

  1. Aw Suzi, what a wonderful heartfelt post. Thank you for sharing. So many complicated emotions to sort through. I lost my father to cancer at age 7 and it still hurts now. I did, when I was about 20, finally find enough peace with it that now I’m not reduced to tears every time I think about him. I save those only for anniversaries of his birthday and his death.

    For all little girls, Daddy is a hero and for little girls who lose him at that age, he will always be that. When you take away half your security (your parents are, after all, your protectors), it’s a big blow to emotional security. And when all you are left with is a mother who is heartbroken and doesn’t know what to do with herself either it is very scary. I understand all that. Life just isn’t fair.

    P.S. I still talk to my Dad too.

  2. I'm so glad you shared your posts with me…you're real food for the heart and soul. I was lucky to have my Dad for 40 years, and believe me 20 more would still not have been enough…I miss him all the time. I shed some tears while reading this, but the love you have for your dad lives on through his grandaughters…they are lucky girls…I felt that even when reading the recipes you are compiling for them…they will always know love.

  3. I read your twitter updates earlier, and was puzzled by their reference to 'childhood' I know.*hugs*

    The hugs aren't sympathy *hugs*, I can tell you're a strong person, who isn't after hugs from a stranger. The *hugs* are to thank you for sharing…this would not have been an easy post to write. Cheers! šŸ™‚

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