I got the sense that the friends were really trying to console me somehow, but really, I felt like they'd lost more than me. They'd lost a friend they saw maybe once a week or more. I'd lost someone that I'd barely kept in touch with -- over these last few years, I'd seen dad maybe once a year or less on average. I'm glad I saw him so recently (a week or two before the end), but -- and I know this sounds awful -- in some ways I was ready. I'd almost been getting ready for it all my life, but even if I hadn't, I'd been noticing a distinct physical decline the last few times I'd seen him, and that didn't seem to me like a good omen.
I do feel guilty about it, though.
My father and I weren't particularly close. Sure, we got along really well, we always had plenty of common interests to talk about, and I know he was proud of me and loved me and all of those things a father should do. And I loved him, for my part. But I always kept him at a distance. It wasn't his fault -- I've always had difficulty being close to people, but especially him. It had everything to do with losing a mother when I was very young, and another mother when I was still young. Mostly I've recovered from that, but in some ways I probably never will. I remember having nightmares (well, not really nightmares, but sort of panic attacks -- hard to explain) about losing him when my second mother died, and I suppose that more or less got subsumed over the years. With all of that, I certainly matured late, and in some ways wasn't really functional as a social being until my twenties, after many people have not only dated but have settled down and even had a couple kids. I wasn't ready for any of that, not really.
Still, I can't complain too much. I suspect that the things I'm really good at are partly due to my, ah, neuroses or whatever they are, and I suspect I never would have gotten into Rice and such without being as focused as I sometimes was. Sometimes still am.
But for his part, I think it was hard. No, I know it was hard. After losing not one but two wives, I think my brother and I must have become even more important to him, as I imagine that's the sort of thing that normally brings the survivors closer together. But I really couldn't return it. I know raising us was hard -- we were difficult children at times. My brother was usually the focus of that, he had the most problems of the two of us, but I was certainly responsible for inciting him at times, and I was a selfish, lazy child (I still am, a little). I also know he was really proud of the things I did (I got far more than my share of academic trophies and such, now all stored in a closet around here somewhere), but still... I never let him get too close. There were a lot of things I never talked to anyone about, especially not him.
I think, though, the saddest thing was being at a friend's wedding after it happened. It was a Quaker wedding, which for me was the worst of all possible things, because at a Quaker wedding, you spend the bulk of the time sitting in silence, waiting for the spirit to move someone into speech. And in that time, I couldn't help but notice that both the bride and groom had both of their parents there, and I couldn't help but think that if I ever get married, no one will be there, especially not him. I don't really know what I want, I don't know if I ever want to settle down (well, I know I do want something like that, even if the details are fuzzy). I don't know if I want kids (sometimes I do, sometimes I don't -- I do like kids, or at least I like my cousin's kids, and kids have always liked me). I know, though, that he wanted me to settle down and have grandkids, and that's something that he'll never see.
The shock of the accident has long since worn off, but that still makes me sad. And a little guilty.
Nothing to be done about it now, though, so I guess I'll go nuke some turkey bacon or something for dinner.