Devin Dearing Preston: NYC writer, playwright, and storyteller

Why not write you?

October 18, 2011

Dear Dad,

I’m sorry I quit writing you. I didn’t. I just needed to take a little break.

I was frankly sick and tired of missing you. Its exhausting. It takes a lot of effort and energy. Energy I’d rather be using doing other things that a young woman like myself should be doing.

Falling in love, say. Or starting her own family. Perhaps making an honest go at her life. Just to name a few.

I secretly wanted to make this into a book. Put my pain in print. Publish the prose of your parental mishaps. Somehow write the wrongs of our lives. But the words began to fail me. I’m not sure that those wrongs can be written. Nor should be. Who does it serve? Not you. You are long gone. Not me, it’s just making it increasingly harder to move forward.

You are no more gone today than you were 6 years ago. Why must I still experience your absence the same? It is still strange and foreign. I still feel cheated. My sadness and longing aren’t new. Nor is the anger and rage. Maybe the distance of 6 years dead and buried feels like a safe enough one to finally tell you how I feel.

Turns out, however, that telling you about it doesn’t make it any less true or overwhelming. It merely records it. Puts it into print as indisputable evidence that your life had an effect on people. This person, specifically. Sadly, it was not always a positive one. But, you can’t hear my regret and make everything different. Can you? So, why bother, is really what I want to say. Why remember? Why reach out? Why keep writing?

As the letters kept coming out of me, I wondered when I would run out of things to say. I was growing sick of my own attachment. How many different ways are there to record the same dulling emotions? I began to feel inadequate in my suffering and stunted in my ability to do away with it. Not to mention insufficient in my capacity to express it. As well as wrong, I felt just plain wrong.

Wrong to attempt closure. Wrong to reach out through eternity, misguided and shamefully self aggrandizing. How is saying these things to a dead man who can’t listen any different from saying them to a drunk man who wouldn’t? The answer is, it isn’t. Nothing will ever change about our relationship. Especially not now. Given you are currently afflicted with the only unchangeable thing in life, death.

Lord knows you can’t respond. I can imagine what you might say in some carefully constructed reply letter, but that is as much of a fantasy of mine as “My Dream Job” or “A Perfect Husband.” I don’t know what you would think about this. How these letters would affect you, how you would feel about me publishing them on-line, or if you have anything left to say to me.

You might not be sorry. I don’t know. You might have wanted to die. You might have hoped to diminish the quality of life for your former wife and two loving daughters. It might bring you sick joy to know we are all still reeling from the after shocks of your life and untimely end. Perhaps it was all part of some evil plan.

Who’s to say it wasn’t? And who’s to say I can’t be more than a little pissed? I’m pissed dad. At you. That’s right, Flynt. I’m fuckin spittin mad that you weren’t there for me then, you haven’t been here for me the last six years, and lord knows you will continue to not be there for me in the future. It’s just not right, Flynt. I’m more than a little upset about it. This rage has frozen the lines of communication, Dad. I didn’t think you would appreciate hearing how furious your life choices have left me.

So, I decided that instead of expressing my anger, I would just stop speaking to you all together. What do you care?

But come to find out, writing you or failing to write you, has no effect on missing you.

It’s the only constant. I believe I was just tired of expressing it. The same missing, only this time with a better constructed metaphor.

Missing is missing. As redundant as it sounds and as much chaos and sorrow you brought to my life, I just can’t seem to stop. I’m pissed that I can’t seem to. I want to. I want to let go. I want to move on. I want to grow forward and away from the trauma of my time with you, but being without you makes me long for the days when you were here. Drunk and inappropriate. Loud and boastful. Mean and neglectful. Self absorbed and irresponsible. But at least you were alive.

Alive is better than dead.

Because your death was not only the end of your life, but also the end of my hope. I could no longer hope you would stop drinking someday and be a better man. Nor could I hope to be a family again.

What do I hope for now? That tomorrow I will miss you a little less? That every funny fat man with a drinking problem won’t remind me so much of you? That every rejection or disappointment I suffer from a man won’t continue to feel as painful as the abandonment I felt by you? That you will miraculously come back to life?

These hopes almost seem plausible to a girl who hoped for the impossible, for you to quit drinking, for as many years as I did. You think I would accept that sometimes there are no such miracles.

I may have lost hope in you, I have limited hope in my ability to ever fully recover from my life with you, but hope with all my heart for the lives of my yet to be children. It’s the hope that I don’t fall blindly for the first fast talking drunk who asks me. And the hope that I spare my own kids from the pain of having a father who is there but never present. That is my new hope.

It would be a lot easier if I could bring myself to hate you, you know, if only a little. Hate you for drinking. Hate you for not having the courage to make better life choices. Hate you for dieing. But I just can’t. I miss you too much.

I guess I can hate you for that. If only a little.



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Categories: Letters I Will Never Send

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