I will see the shadow behind his eyes, a darkness waiting to creep in and steal his breath away like a thief in the night. I know there is no light bright enough to keep it away, and yet I want to set the world on fire. I feel like failing to strike the match is failing to do my part to keep him alive, even though I know that in the end I would be left standing in a pile of rubble and ashes, and he would still be gone anyway.
I know there is nothing I can do.
Already, I'm frustrated at the idea of having to listen to the same stories I've heard a hundred times, the same anticdotes and tired jokes, the same intonations, the same questions. All of this was the soundtrack to my childhood, and while it seemed novel and indearing then, the older I get the more I realize that it is on a constant repeating loop, and I resent having to hear it all again. I want him to say something more, to delve deeper into himself and show it to me now because he may not have another chance. I want more from him than the same tired show I always get.
I feel guilty for my preemptive frustration because I know this may be the last time I hear these things. I know I should take this as an opportunity to revisit happier times, and yet all of the anger I feel toward his sickness and the fact that he's dying has to go somewhere, doesn't it? It has to be directed at something. Ideally, I would not feel this way. If I were the person I wish I was, I would not be frustrated or angry or anxious at all. I would stand against this wave that is coming, and I would hold my ground for myself and for him.
I'm not that person. I'm not calm or together, I'm not strong or independant or brave.
I'm angry that he's sick- he's done this to himself, to an extent, and it infuriates me. Did he never think ahead to what would happen? Did he never realize the gamble he was taking, and that eventually he was bound to lose? Did he not care enough about us to at least make a phoned-in effort to change the way he is and the things he does, did he not want to be here for us for longer? Did he not realize that he would orphan his daughters by constantly and consistently disregarding the advice of every medical professional to cross his path? I'm angry that I have to mourn him, that I have to be afraid to see him now, and that it's going to launch me right back to when my mother died.
I hate him for making me go back there. It fills me with the kind of anxiety and anger that I thought was well behind me. That wound is by no means fresh, it has healed over, but beneath the surface it festers. I do not want to see it torn open again, I would do anything in the world not to feel those things again, and yet there is nothing in the world I can do. I literally, physically shake at the thought of it- those weeks and months are a black, churning mass in my mind, bursts of pain radiating out and away. I don't want to go back there, I don't want to see him there with me.
I will see in him the ghost of the father I knew as a child. I will see the ghost he will become.
I'm not scared anymore; just resigned and tired. I don't want to see my father this way, yet I know that I will. I don't want to be frustrated with him, yet I can feel it bubbling inside of me, just a hint of the roiling, raging storm that is to come. I don't want to be angry, but it's easier than feeling my heart break.
I know that when I see him, I will be crushed. I know that these harder, more defensive emotions are my stupid way of trying to brace myself against the pain that is coming. Still, I feel so unprepared that it's almost laughable.
The only thing making it possible for me to attempt this trip down memory lane is that I won't be doing it alone. I will have someone to hold my hand, someone I care very much about, and he will help me hold it together when I feel my heart breaking again. He will calm me enough to listen. And there under all of this anger and pain and frustration and rage, there is a soft, silken, soothing voice.
I'm trying. I am trying so hard.