When you lose a parent, people promise you the world. They promise you they’ll make plans and support you in time of need, but mostly it’s a lot of talk. Amidst all that noise, there was something else I heard. It was the voices of others who had lost their parents at a young age. They said: “It doesn’t get normal, it only gets less weird.”
Five years later I wonder, after all this time is it still not normal? Is it in fact getting less weird?
My history of moodiness leading up to, and following losing my father is well documented. My hero’s death left me both angry and devastated. It left me wanting to spend the rest of my life curled up under a bridge. A moment later I would want to set every single bridge on fire. Five years ago, I was twenty-three years old and my hurt burned my sweetest friend more times than I ever should have let it.
There was no shortage of things I hated as a result of losing my father:
- The sight of cut grass on my mother’s lawn.
- Seeing the cane or straw hat Dad only started using after his sickness.
- Family events where I recognized everyone around me, and still felt as though my family wasn’t there. Broken, with a third of the pieces gone, never to be together again.
Has anything really changed?
Losing Dad meant losing my compass. By now I’ve made so many difficult decisions without him. I’ve built my knowledge, experience, and confidence, sometimes right, but often wrong. One difference in me is that I don’t turn to him for guidance anymore, but I still miss being able to.
Mom tries to step up where she can:
“Adrian, you’re living in a time of angst in your life sweetheart. How you feel is normal. You’re at an age when people’s lives and lifestyles are changing dramatically. Some things are getting settled, some things are just getting started. You’re trying to find all these answers, about where your life is going, when it will all start, when it will all come together, and who you’re going to share it all with. But this is it babe, this is your life. You only get this one, and this is it, and it is coming together. You’re living it. Right now.”
Maybe this is my new normal. Maybe this is my life. I can see why it all looks shiny on paper: Career, house, cute dog, home improvements, motorcycles, big smiling faces, more stuff, upgraded stuff, and an advanced degree in Auto-Adjust and Instagram filters. But if Mom says it’s all coming together, why does it feel like it’s all coming apart?
I can’t accept that this is my new normal.
How could I, when instead of getting less weird, things sometimes seem to get weirder?
Take for example, the age difference between my father and I. When he passed, there were 31 years between us, now there are but 26. How many of the things he advised his 23-year-old son in 2012, would he even still say to that 28-year-old man living in the world of 2017? What new things would he say? Weird is never knowing. Even weirder is knowing that 31-year gap between us will one day be just 21, and so on.
As a kid, it seemed Dad knew and could do everything. But he didn’t do his own oil changes, repair his own appliances or even mail in his mail-in rebates. Weird is the feeling you get when you realize you’re beginning to surpass your father in more ways than you’re mentally ready to, even if they aren’t important things.
Lastly, my sadness for having lost my father decreases slowly over the years, but my sadness for him having to go through that terrible illness, and miss out on all of the beautiful things in life only grows. The more amazing things I see in the world, and the more bad people I still see in it, the more it bothers me that his life was cut short.
“It doesn’t get normal, it only gets less weird.”
To this day, I guess the sentence rings true. “It doesn’t get normal” that’s for damn sure. I refuse to call this life I have now normal. As for “it only gets less weird.” Well, yes, and no. Some parts of not having Dad around get less weird, others are only getting weirder. But like Mom said “this is it babe, this is your life… You’re living it.”
So every now and then I need to remind myself to smile. Well, here’s something to smile about:
In 2012, the year Dad passed away, his favourite soccer team, Juventus, went undefeated for their entire season and won Italy’s Serie A. They would win the championship again the next year, and in fact, have won it for five consecutive years, winning it every year since Dad passed.
I hope they stream Serie A soccer, wherever you are.
I love you Dad.