Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Saying goodbye, again

I received word last night that my step-father died. Last month. Here we go again. Two fathers. Two months apart. A month passed before I heard of either of their deaths.

I'm still struggling with the delayed bereavement of my father. That news was devastating. He was a good man. I never saw a bad side to him. I grieved openly. I told people what happened. I talked about it. I wrote an obituary and had it published Thanksgiving Day. I had the utmost respect for my father. While it was hard hearing the news, it was easy grieving the loss.

But this news is conflicting. My walls go up. This is a man I loved and hated to extremes at the same time. I saw and experienced the best and worst of him. I was four when he came into our lives. My mom divorced my Dad in July of 1968 and married my Step-dad in November of the same year. I turned four ten days before they were married. The young and the innocent love immediately. They know no different. They know God's love. Unconditional.

I've blogged on the abuse that I suffered at this man's hands. But, I knew another side to him too. The kind and gentle side. A giving caring person that never turned away from someone in trouble. I've fought to reconcile my feeling towards him. I've learned it's okay to love the person but hate what they do. I forgave him a long time ago because forgiveness is for yourself not for the other person. It releases the anger, the hurt, the shame, the humiliation. I empowers your soul again.

But, now how do I grieve. The conflicts surface again. The walls come up. People don't understand. They don't want to hear that you can love someone who does terrible things. Especially to children. So, I grieve in silence. I don't talk to everyone like I did when my Dad passed.

My step-father had dementia. I last saw him about four years ago when he was put in the first Nursing home. He was alert when I got there. He was delighted to see me. But, I found I was still guarded. I was forty years old but still felt like a child. We talked for a while and I pushed him down the halls. Then after a while, he was somewhere else. It didn't seem like a good place either. As I was leaving I asked if there was anything else I he needed before I left. He nodded and asked him he could have a hug. I froze. I hugged him like you hug a stranger. Then I left. That was the last time I saw him or spoke to him. He died alone.