One Year Later

Dear Dad,

I call you “Gerald” when I’m angry with you. I call you “Dad” when I think about all the things you did for me.

I think about you every day: what you’d think of the news (you’d be incredulous), of technology (slightly offended, probably), of a certain movie (would you hate Marvel films or love them?), of a book (what was the last one you read?), of my home (too messy), of my job (would you be proud?), of my tattoos (you’d hate them all), or what you’d be doing if you’d been healthy.

To mark the one-year anniversary of the last day of your life, I watched Blade II and Blade Trinity with my best friend. Two movies that you loved and I loved–two movies that I watched next to you in theaters. Two movies where I got to hear you laugh. Like you and I, my best friend and I had little asides during the movie. I was always the only one you would let talk during a film.

My dreams about you have changed. I used to have nightmares where you would try to murder me, or where you didn’t remember who I was, or where you’d disappear and I’d spend the dream hunting constantly changing landscapes for you. Now I dream about going on vacation with you, or introducing you to important people in my life. My subconscious is preparing me for all the events you’re going to miss.

Did you ever stop to consider how traumatic your suicide would be for those you’d leave behind? Your death lingers in my cells like a dormant illness. Around your birthday I started feeling it draining all of my energy away. I haven’t gone grocery shopping in a month. Getting out of bed requires all of my strength. Your manner of death is still incapacitating.

Sometimes, when I walk my dog at night, I try to have conversations with you. I speak to the sky like you can hear me, which you’d hate, since you were an atheist.

To be honest, I think that’s why I do it. It’s an act of defiance; one that, if there is an afterlife, would annoy you.

Like this blog did sometimes, even though you told me to keep writing it.

It’s been one year since I spoke to the coroner. One year since all the hopes I had clung to disintegrated in an exhalation. One year since you decided you couldn’t be here, or anywhere, anymore, and left us all behind.

This year has taught me to be gentle with myself, but firm with my boundaries. It has taught me that there are those around me who will hold me up when I can’t do it myself. It has shown me the grace of grief and the incomparable grasp of love.

I am sorry that you felt you had to go.

Love Always,

Whitney

 

 

10 thoughts on “One Year Later

  1. Beautiful reflection. I lost my dad about 3.5 years ago, not by his choice but to early Alzheimer’s. I think about him a lot too, especially what he would think of different things in my life. I’d like to say after a year it’s easier, but it’s not. Things are just different. This was a beautiful post. ❤

  2. I’m so sorry for what you’ve had to go through. My heart hurt for you while reading this, though I’m glad to see you’ve been able to turn something terribly painful into something that has taught you some amazing lessons. Thank you for sharing this. ❤

  3. Whitney, I want to let you know that the impact of your words is powerful. A dear friend asked permission to share your writing, as a friend’s daughter is experiencing the loss of her father to suicide one year ago. Hoping the daughter can find some comfort in knowing she isn’t alone.
    love you.

  4. Thank you for sharing this, Whitney….it’s a beautiful letter. Wishing you continued strength as you go forward in your own life.

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