Usually when a death occurs one expects grief. Yet my first reaction was horror in the night.
I saw him bigger than life in a dream, and I was shockingly afraid one last time.
His fearsome eyes, his hard set jaw reminded me . . .
Of the razor strap coming toward me but I knew flinching would not help.
Of how he would fly off unpredictably — into a rage which permeated and soured much of my life in his household.
I can see the bruises, blood, and feel the whelps.
I remember my soul’s pitiful yelps . . . which didn’t actually subside when he stopped, since I knew it was only a matter of time till a rage would blow through our lives again.
My faith that there was Good Somewhere sustained me and let me look past him a good deal of the time of my youth.
Yet I could never quite look through him –Till that last dream.
With that I let out one last sigh, a cry, and said goodbye:
Goodbye fear, pain, soul-wreaking strain.
Struggles stay but I have a chance.
Watch out world; I’ve been known to dance!
Father’s Day is not the same for all.
I praise loving dads. I encourage them all.
It’ll be OK, I’ve let it go.
I fear no more — my feet are square on the floor.
I go on, mothering myself and others.
From my mind the fear is gone, and now so is he.
I’m glad I’m moving on.
I will enjoy being me.
Although I had already worked through the personal path of forgiving him, there was still a jagged edge of frightful memories hanging onto the edge of my soul.
I traveled out of state to the funeral and spent quality time with my brother and sister. We looked at old photographs and harvested positive memories of our shared childhood. We did not avoid talking honestly about the struggles, fear and suffering we still held in our hearts.
We opened the wound of grief and empathy for our dad while extending the same courtesy to ourselves. This was the start of healing. Perhaps my raising is just why I’ve always had a passion for underserved populations, especially children. No child should suffer because an adult has not made peace with his life.
Copyright 1999 by Hildra Tague. Obtain permission for use online or in print.