Thank you all for your kind comments and supportive words. They help, they really do.
And an apology: I have not been commenting as I should for ICLW. I've been too wrapped up in the mess in my head. I don't like soaking up all of your comments and not giving anything back, so I'll try to catch up this weekend. For now though, a big sorry to the internets.
I've found my thoughts lately drifting to my dad. He's been on my mind all day today, as if I needed more to be emotional about. He died, more than 14 years ago, when I was a teenager. He was an alcoholic, and when drunk he scared the shit out of me. He was never actually physically abusive to me, but the threats scared me as if he was. I remember sleeping with a knife under my mattress when I was 10 or 11, because one fun night, my brother and I had woken up to hear him sharpening knives in the kitchen in the middle of the night. We asked him what he was doing (because sometimes when he was drunk he'd do stupid, funny things in his sleep) and he responded that he was getting ready to kill our mother. For a long time after I slept with the knife under the mattress and a giant teddy bear on top of me so that if he stabbed me, it wouldn't go so deep as to kill me. I hated him.
But I loved him too, so much. When he wasn't drinking, or detoxing, he was a nice guy. He was my dad - he cooked for me, told me funny stories, took me to the park when I was little. Those pleasant memories faded out as I got older, nearer to the end of his life. I wanted him to have the strength to defeat his demons. I wanted him to love us enough. I was so, so angry for so long before he died because he couldn't. And for all of these years I've mourned the relationship I never got to have with him: the confidante, the dating advice, the daddy to his little girl. Would he love Hubby? Would he fly here to be with me now, to hug me and comfort me and wipe away my tears? I miss him, but it's a fiction: that dad never existed in my life, at least not since I left kindergarten.
What saddens me most about my dad's death and life is that now that I am old enough to know how tragic his own childhood was, how much pain he himself struggled with daily, how addiction is not something that can be defeated by force of will - now that I am old enough to really love him - he's gone.
I still have dreams of him, though. Every couple of months or so, I dream that he walks up to my door, handsome and muscular like he was before he really started going downhill, and knocks, and explains that it was all a big misunderstanding - he hasn't been dead all these years but stranded somewhere, trying to make his way back to me. To prove to me that he did love me enough, he really did.
I wonder sometimes if the only reason I can see past all of that anger and angst I used to have is because I am looking through the prism of his death. Maybe, if he were still alive, I'd still be angry and hateful. Maybe we would never have had that closeness. That's what death does - robs us of possibility. I'll never know, as much as I'd like to.
But right now I am feeling very much like a girl in need of her daddy.