I didn’t know people died like that. Slowly. In a living room. On a warm September day. It had been a long and excruciatingly painful process, for everyone. I never thought it could get so bad that I’d be begging death to take my favorite human, but it did. He wouldn’t have wanted it like that — none of us would have if we had known. But we didn’t know, and that’s how it went. Eating ice cream, watching tv, waiting for him to die.
They say that the bad stuff fades in time, and they’re right. It’s been six years this week and I think about the cancer a lot less now. They said that eventually I’d just remember him how he was, during the good times. It used to make me angry because it was such a long process but, in time, they were right about that too.
I decided to let myself let go this year. For a long time I thought that letting go meant loving him less. I thought if I wasn’t still clinging to him and intensely suffering every day, that our relationship and love must not have been as special as I thought it was. That’s not what it means. It just means creating space to pursue happiness. He’d want that.
For the first time, I can look at pictures of my dad and really smile. I still have my moments, but I’m in control now. And when I let myself feel it — really feel it — I’m grateful. It reminds me how real and how deep that love was (is), and how lucky I am to ever have had something worth missing so much.