Choking on regret

For the last several hours I’ve been feeling like a bad person.

My thoughts rewind to my dad. He wasn’t around much when I was growing up. In retrospect, it didn’t feel like enough effort but really – it was the best he could do. My thoughts towards him were heavily influenced by my mum and brother. They bore grunt of the pain he had caused before I was born. Their pain is understandable.

I grew up not wanting much to do with him. As I got older and infused the world around me, I realised that he wasn’t a bad man. He was actually a really lovely man and well liked by everyone. The wounds from yesteryear took a long time heal in my family though. As the wounds started to heal so did our relationship. I just didnt realise it.

I stopped saying “I love you too” when he would say goodbye. The only time I recall telling him I loved him and that I didn’t say it enough was when I was drunk over a Skype call. I’m glad I said it at least once as a young adult.. even if I was drunk. Drunk men don’t lie you know..

As I started to enter my 20s I started to look forward to his trips back to New Zealand. He would see us at least once or twice a year.. if not three. Even though our dinners out were always awkward and I didn’t really have much to say, I’m grateful for that time. Even if I had wasted it in a way. I started to see him as a man who had made mistakes, had heavy regrets and wanted to make amends. The bridge was building and it was just inches away from us being at arms length. Like two ends of a tunnel closing in and getting close to meeting each other. I imagined him walking me down the aisle to give me away (I refused the idea in my teens). I imagined him as a grandfather to my future hypothetical kids. I knew once we had met that road in my life that the bridge would be complete and we’d be able to hug at the cross road and pick a path to go down.

The last time I saw my dad I had friends over to play Nintendo Wii and drink. I didn’t realise he was coming over for dinner and was a bit annoyed. What a little shit. It was actually pleasant looking back. I remember him looking a bit uncomfortable in our house. He had never eaten with us all at once in our home. Me, mum and my brother. I itched at the chance to get back to my friends so I did. When he left I think I just said bye. Nothing else. I didn’t realise it was going to be the last time I’d see him alive. I’m such a twat.

When the call came from my nana I just replied “what…?” I did hear her but I was in disbelief. I felt guilty straight away for making her repeat the fact that her son, my dad.. had passed away. It was a punch to the cosmic gut. He had a heart attack in a gold mine in Egypt. They found him 20 minutes after. Thousands of kilometres away.

It was the first time I had approached my grandparents house feeling apprehensive. There were these old people there sitting at the front of the house. Family friends. It was the first time I had felt genuinely empty. Did you know that all of your internal organs can be pulled out all at once, still connected? Imagine that. Or don’t. Sorry.

The company had told us it would be a week before his body would make it home, then they said it would take a fortnight. Luckily it turned out that he was flown home in several days. Lucky for many reasons. One being that his body wasn’t properly embalmed. That pissed me off. Apparently the embalming fluids hadn’t set into his legs and they had already started to buldge.
His work mates flew all the way home with him. My brother met his plane in Australia and travelled with him from there. In a metal box.

I stood in the driveway waiting. When he arrived I melted.. and not in a nice way. People turned up all day to pay their respects at his wake. Family. Friends and work mates he had made over the decades. His casket was laid in my grandparents lounge. They set up two beds for my grandparents and my dad was at the foot of my nana’s bed. Chairs were set up for visitors. People were hushed in in waves. Telling their stories. Laughing and crying. I didn’t have any stories to tell.. not like the stories others were telling, about a man that they knew far better than me.

I kissed so many cheeks and was introduced to so many people that it became a blur. Their names and faces just skidded past my mind as more rolled through.

I remember my cousin telling me to remember the good times with him. I didn’t give him a chance to make those memories. There are photos in our hallway from a holiday we took overseas. I looked at them today and thought “I can see two.. three photos where he had tried to get a photo with me but I blew him off. You’re a horrible person minty. Don’t ever forget that.”

I don’t know if this regret will ever leave me. I still cry the same way I did that week when I get like this. A few times when I’ve been alone I’ve even wailed. I don’t know if I can forgive myself. Sometimes I do.. most times I don’t. No wonder I secretly hate myself sometimes.

I still mourn.
Words will never express how sorry I am.
You will never see, feel or build a relationship with my children.
You will never receive an “I love you too” to your face.
You will never share your wisdom that I would wholeheartedly welcome.
You will never get that second chance that was awaiting you.

I’m so sorry.