Devin Dearing Preston: NYC writer, playwright, and storyteller

An annivesary of sorts

November 22, 2011

Dear Dad,

My phone is going to remind me in three hours that you died. The thought of that makes me laugh. Please forgive me.

What’s funny is that I thought I needed to mark the day of your passing on my calendar as if it was something I had even an outside chance of forgetting. That this year was finally going to be the year that it conveniently slips my mind. That November 22, magically becomes the day that I get a really good deal on car insurance, instead. Or is the day I find that perfect pair of winter boots. Or maybe it becomes the day I finish “War and Peace”. Or perhaps it could be the day I finally get all my holiday shopping done, a month ahead of time.

I would really love for it to be any other day than the one my one and only father went from being totally alive to totally not alive. That would be nice. It would be extra nice if that day wasn’t even part of my reality at all. At least not yet. Then I could be like most girls in their late 20’s, tormented with the decision of which side of their broken home to spend the holidays with. That would be a fine change.

Just think, if you had never died, November 22 could be the day my dad calls and asks what I’m making for Thanksgiving. Tells me about the pot luck his AA group is having and tells me how he can’t wait to see me at Christmas.

Alas, those things will never be what I commemorate on this the 22 day in the month of November.

The problem is obviously not with the actual date, November 22. But that you are dead. I have no beef with autumn or Thanksgiving, well I didn’t up until 6 years ago exactly. Apart from your passing, it has very little significance. If you had died any other day, I would be free from the dread and sadness that it inspires. Those feelings would be transferred to another day, this new hypothetical day of your death, more than likely, honestly creating the same issue. The only way around my annual sadness, I guess, if you’ll humor me, is to go back in time and have you not die at all. I would very much like that. Actually. That would solve the whole thing.

Yes. No death, no anniversary of said death. Done.

This kind of anniversary is weird too, because you are just as dead now as you will be in three hours. And you will be no less dead on Wednesday or next Tuesday. So why do I give this one date so much power? I don’t get to exchange gifts with someone or go to a fancy dinner, though I don’t think either would make me more inclined to look forward to the anniversary of my father’s death. But I struggle every year with knowing exactly what kind of thing I should “do” to “celebrate” it.

I usually pretend I don’t know its happening. Its hard for a dead person to be mad at you for “forgetting” the day they died, with them being dead and all. The trouble is I only pretend to not know. Thus, I spend the whole day flipping between pretending I have nothing to be sad about, being sad, and feeling guilty for being sad at all because I should be over this, the whole death of my father thing, by now. It has been 6 years. Most people of my generation can manage to finally finish a degree in that amount of time. And yet, the date of your passing still has a huge affect on me.

On the positive side of things, it does give me a day to actively remember, I suppose. To be able to answer the question, “Why am I having such a hard time with this?” “Oh, right, probably because of my still unresolved feelings about my dead alcoholic father. ” Thank you, November 22nd, for reminding me. But the struggle is, apart from that, who wants to sit around and think about how much they miss someone all day? Especially when missing them won’t bring them back. And when forgetting you miss them would be a lot less painful.

As the trauma of your death grows smaller in my rear view mirror, perhaps I do secretly fear the day when I will no longer be able to see it at all. When the effects of your life have diminished from mine, and this anniversary is just another day in November. When I am honestly no longer derailed by this momentous occasion.

That’s not this year, don’t worry. But, my joking tone denotes one of a bit more distance than I am comfortable admitting to. That I am a little shocked by. Maybe I am letting go of this, Flynt. I’m sorry. No offense. I secretly hoped I could use it as an excuse for why my life sucked for many years to come. But time and writing these damn letters seem to be really alleviating me of some of the sorrow I once found unbearable to even admit to. Even on the 22nd of November.

In years past, the 22nd was a day where if anyone dared to ask, “What’s wrong with you?” Or “Jeeze, who died?” I could confidently answer with a vindicated “My Dad, actually! Today.”

It was my day to be just as sad about this as I needed to be. The irony was, what was wrong with me that one day, is what had been wrong with me for years. Until I found the courage to talk and cry about your death more often than annually.

With each long hard cry, I grow less attached to my sadness about loosing you. As well as my sadness about never really having you when I needed you most. I’m still trying to let go of wanting you to be in this next part of my adult life, but the more I sit with that regret, the lighter it becomes, too. Maybe my fear is becoming an actuality, Flynt. Don’t beat yourself up about this, I think six years is quite enough time for someone to struggle with letting go. Even of a man as impressive and memorable as you. I still miss you, but in a manageable and loving way.

But in a few years, I see myself getting to the end of this day, having done nothing extraordinary, getting ready for bed with a small feeling that I had forgotten something, maybe even something important, even though I just wasn’t quiet sure what it could be. Letting that feeling go, climbing into bed, closing my eyes and dreaming about lovely things. Only waking to realize what I had forgotten was your death.

I smile softly to myself, cry a single tear, look up to the sky and say, “We made it through this, Dad”. And we will both be free.

Well, a daughter can dream. We aren’t there yet. Ill be thinking of you all day tomorrow. Fondly. That is where I am on this the sixth anniversary of your death.

All my love,

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Categories: Letters I Will Never Send

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