The memory of my father slips away because I don’t want to remember him. If I remember him, if I remember everything about him, I will have to remember EVERYTHING. Not only will I recall his laugh, so similar to my own, but I must also see his last struggling breaths of air. The sound of his lungs working against him, against nature, betraying him.
The things that defined him, gave him importance, like the many games he played that required quiet and thought, hurt me. I think about the things that he clung to, the things that he obsessed over. I think about how useless they became in his final days. How they dropped away and became nothing, how you can’t fill a cemetery with the pieces on a chess board. How I can never know again that “One more minute!” during a golf tournament potentially means one more hour, or two, or three.
I don’t ever want to hear myself apologize to him for being a bad daughter, and I never ever want to hear him apologize for being a bad father. If I go back to this, I will have to be thirteen again, walking away from him in the last moments of his failure of a life.
My world went on. I cried enough, I grieved enough, and I went through the process. As the days passed, I left it behind me. Everything about him began to fade from my life to the point where discussing him became difficult. Naturally, I didn’t want to reflect on his life because I didn’t want to reflect on his death. Before the day Robert Theodore Katsikas disintegrated from the Earth, immortality was almost a certainty. Death was something that could happen to me, but it wasn’t something that would happen to me.
I am a master at pushing memories to the wayside. My childhood has become a scene in my life so alien that it is like I have become a different person. I am the interchangeable actor in a soap opera who takes the part of a main character. Only my name is important, not my heart. You can put any label on me that you would like, but I am not the little girl I once was. Perhaps I am not everything against what I hoped to be because what I wanted was simple. I’ve reached most of the goals that I set for myself early in life: freedom, change, independence.
But will I lie in my grave, wondering of things that might have been better than maybe?
Would I not like to be?