Aug 3, 2012


My father was only 42 when he died of lung cancer. I remember at the time how truly unfair that felt—not just to lose my father in general, and not just for him to die at such a young age, but because he succumbed to a disease that implied he didn’t take care of himself...that he had been careless. Frankly, it was a slap in the face for a man who prided himself on living as healthy a lifestyle as possible. For lung cancer to grow inside a man who'd never once smoked – and he didn't; not cigarettes, not cigars, not even pipes – made about as much sense as...well, I don't even know. He ate healthy, got his eight hours, and walked our dog, Betsy, to the park and back—every morning, without fail. His only real vice – if you could call it that – was a single glass of red at dinner.

Despite this, whichever godlike or cosmic force it was that drew his number didn't care about the particulars. They’d pointed at him and assigned him his fate; and like all the other shortcomings that befell him during his life, he accepted it without a fuss.

By the time I was midway through elementary school, my mother had already left us—off to hopefully live a life that didn't suffocate her. Her desertion of us was obviously upsetting, but not necessarily jarring. And after she left, we never really talked about her—neither in the way one does when someone passes away, nor in the way one accidentally does before remembering that this person had split for reasons likely having to do with their own selfishness. I don't want to paint her as this terrible person, though, because she wasn't. But she was unhappy; lost, distracted, maybe even depressed. And she simply wasn't invested in us. Even before she left, we, I think, subconsciously learned not to need her, as if we knew her abandonment of us was inevitable. She was the equivalent of the woman working the counter at the post office, or answering phones at the library. She was someone you’d notice if she went missing, but for whom you wouldn’t necessarily mourn. I don't blame her for leaving, and I don't hate her, either. I hope wherever she is, she found whatever it was she was looking for.

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  1. My god. This moved me. Really, truly deeply. I'm going through a similar situation, and your father sounds a lot like mine. Thank you for writing this.

    1. Thank you very much for the kind words. I'm sorry to hear of your troubles.