To My Father, Before He Dies


Every time I speak to you I wonder, is this it? Is the last time I will hear your voice?

But then I think again – this isn’t your voice. No, not really. The last time I heard your voice, your real voice, was sometime last March. Your mother died suddenly and it brought us closer than we had been in years. Closer than we had been since I was too young to understand. Too young to understand that you had been dealt a hand that traumatized you – that tore you apart and tormented you every waking moment of your life.

You always said you would kill yourself if you were brave enough. I’m sure to anyone reading this, that thought is horrifying. That it isn’t a brave act, it’s selfish and unnecessary one. But they haven’t met you. They haven’t met someone whose life has been a series of horrific acts against their own body, intent to destroy it and escape whatever ghosts are inside you whispering in your ear. They have not met someone who will die at last, after a long battle with life.

I wish with my whole heart you had what you considered courage enough to pick up that gun and free yourself. I would understand that more than I understand this. I would understand the desperate attempt to be free immediately. I wouldn’t see it as selfish. In fact, I think I would have been proud of you. Proud knowing that your last act was doing something you so desperately wanted, yet spent your life fearing. I would have understood. I don’t understand this.

I don’t understand you killing yourself slowly. Waiting desperately for the years of torture to catch up to you. You must be in pain. Are you in pain? Can you feel everything slipping away? Failing? Do you realize the difficulty urinating you’re having is your kidneys telling you it’s over? They’re giving you what you want.

Can you feel your liver? What is it saying to you? Does it beg you to stop? Or does it say just a little more, we’re almost there. We’re almost home.

What is home to you now? Because it certainly isn’t here and it certainly isn’t me. Where is it?

I had a dream you were a bird. Everyone who knows you would say that was silly, that you would be a deer. But I don’t think so. Just like life has shackled you to your pain and torment, those legs would shackle you to the earth. The very thing you are desperate to escape and to forget. I think you will be a bird. I want you to be a bird. I want you to leave the ground whenever you need; I want you to feel free. Freer than you have every felt. So free you can leave everything behind at a second and fly somewhere distant. So free you can see everything you were meant to but never got to see.

I promise I won’t bury you. I won’t bury your body. I won’t leave you in the earth you hate. I won’t seal you in a box and leave you to rot. I won’t leave you there to spend your death just how you spent your life.

I will do what you want. I will cremate you. I will put you in the cheapest urn I can find. But I won’t throw you away. I will buy the cheapest urn because I do not plan on keeping you. No, I don’t want you to be kept anywhere ever again. I plan on breaking you open. I will separate you into bags. I will bring you places. I will show you the world you never got to see.

I will show you beautiful things, and I will leave you. I will scatter you. I will scatter you in the wind so your wings can gain momentum and you can fly away. Please fly away.

Don’t be scared. Please don’t be scared. I won’t be selfish and keep you here. I won’t keep you anywhere. I will tattoo myself with a bird to remember you are flying somewhere, finally free. Don’t be scared. Close your eyes. You will be free soon. It won’t hurt soon. Your fight will be over soon.

Don’t think I will forget you. I promise I won’t. I will smile when I hear the wind, or feel it in my hair. I will feel you as you whisper by me. I won’t be mad you didn’t stay longer. I know you have things to do and things to see. I will say hi to every passing bird just in case it’s you.

I will smile on my wedding day and leave an empty seat for you. Maybe you can stop by. But if you can’t, I understand. Planting your feet firmly on the ground for that long might be scary for you and might bring back some painful memories. That’s okay. Maybe you can just fly overhead. I don’t expect you to stick around for the dance – that’s too much time on the ground. I said I wouldn’t keep you anywhere ever again.

I am sorry. I am sorry life has hurt you like this. Close your eyes. It won’t hurt soon. I promise it won’t hurt soon.

I think, if it’s okay, I will keep some of my favorite pieces of you in my heart. But I promise, you’re free to come and go as you please. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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