Hey Dad, what do you think about your son now?
Few years ago, I wrote a letter to Javier and never meant to send it. A vent. Something written out of anger. As much as I say I practice certain Buddhist philosophies and practices, I can never put the anger behind me. Even after all these years of growing up, I’m still the angry child inside.
Whenever I write about fathers and sons, I think about the worse. A son watches his father courting other women. A son knowingly speaks to his father without the latter knowing who sits before him. A father splattering his brains on the walls. A drunk beating his son. A drunk driving his son to murder. A drunk. A father. A failure. Words that are synonymous in my dictionary. But not all fathers are drunks and not all drunks are fathers. And not all fathers are failures and not all failures are fathers. Though, in my eyes, not all failures are drunks, but all drunks are failures.
When Javier was admitted to the hospital, my at-the-time girlfriend, Jessica, asked if I was one of those guys who grow up hating their dads and suddenly love them when they’re dying. Because, socially, we accept that feeling sad when someone passes as a sign of affection. I can’t honestly say I hate my father, because for me to truly hate someone you have to love them first. Sure, I say I hate a lot of people, but I dislike them at best. And I can’t recall a time when I loved my father. He was there sporadically in my childhood. Most of my memories are of him being angry, being drunk, hung over, or forgetting to drive us to school.
To answer your question, Jessica, after all these years, I can’t say that I am. I might cry when he does. And I might have this feeling of emptiness inside me when I learn he’s in his final days. But do not mistake that sadness as a sign of affection. Recognize it for what it is: the sadness of not knowing why I wasn’t good enough to stick around.
I haven’t felt comfortable in my skin for almost a year now. And now the stranger I see is not one I fear. Thank you.
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