Life seemed to go on forever and I never thought about death. I also learned to never pass up an opportunity to give or receive a genuine hug. I didn’t know how to act, what to say, so I sat in silence. Anyone who knows me knows that my hugs are free and frequent. You can’t add more memories and you can’t relate to your friends with longer playlists. My life has been fuller, more beautiful, and more fun because I take chances that come to me. Because of my dad’s death, I will never be the same.
One of the hardest things about losing a parent is feeling that nobody understands. It hurts, it’s lonely, and there are some days you’d do almost anything to be the same . If my dad hadn’t died, would I always have played it safe? Would I have swum with dolphins or learned to scuba dive? I traded innocence and “fitting in” for understanding and appreciation. Would I give up everything I’ve learned if I could have my dad back? The only option I have is to make those changes as valuable as possible.
Even worse is feeling different and seeing those differences every day. If Dad can see me, I want him to know that he’s still teaching me and still answering my questions.
When your friend shows you a car his dad bought for him, or you see how happy her dad looks to walk her down the aisle, or when they complain about something their dad did .
Growing up, Bryan Mc Guire embraced the anger that boiled inside him – emotions mostly directed at his alcoholic father. When I felt treated badly, it seemed natural to hold on tightly to the anger and resentment. Most of this indignation was directed at my father.
One night, as I watched my newborn son sleep, studying his beautiful face, I suddenly became filled with fear.
I was convinced I would screw him up—that all my problems would wash over him, tarnishing his perfect soul.
Strangely, while panicking about my son’s impending doom, Dad popped to mind.
I sat there in the dark, surrounded by the soothing sounds and smells of my baby’s room, and I thought of how Dad must have felt when I was born.
I knew at that moment that he never intended to hurt me.
In some ways, I see life as a puzzle – every experience you have forms a piece of your unique puzzle.
When combined, they form the entire picture of your life.
My Dad took a piece of my puzzle with him, a piece that will never return. We shared memories that nobody else shares, which means he knew me differently than anyone else.
When someone you love dies, that part of you dies as well. Your puzzle may grow, but you can never replace that missing piece. I saw God’s beauty in the smallest things – plants starting to bud, cocooning butterflies, the exact color blue of the sky. I still had plenty of questions, but nobody to answer them. So I learned things on my own – great big things that I couldn’t have understood any other way. There are few words and fewer acts that can convey more emotion, more truth than a hug. At first with bitterness, now with acceptance, I realized that there is no promise of tomorrow.
And because of that, I will never be the same again. When I found a four-leaf clover, Dad laminated it for me to preserve that small wonder. The world had infinite joys to discover and I had endless curiosity. I learned the importance of telling people that you love them. Of all the things I regret, missing the chance to say “I love you” will never be one of them. They are the simplest, most perfect way to ease despair, to share joy, to demonstrate empathy, or to show love. You are given such a small time, and you never know when your time will run out. How can they if they’ve never had to think about death? Spend your life doing things that make you happy because you may not have the chance later.
I realized that he loved me just as I loved my son.
I knew that he had done the best he could, even if it wasn’t always very good. Maybe I was afraid my son would blame me for whatever problems would inevitably fall his way. I knew that if I didn’t forgive him, I would never have the kind of relationship I wanted with my son.
I forgave my father that night—for all the times he got drunk, embarrassed me, or hurt my mother. I let go of the resentment I’d held toward him for so many years. But whatever the reason, for the first time, I saw my dad as a real person. If I kept blaming him I would never start living my life.
Dad hadn’t asked for my forgiveness; he’s never acknowledged that he’s done anything wrong. Bryan Mc Guire is a marketing administrator in Chicago, Illinois, where he lives with his wife and three children.
But I realized that in forgiving him, what I was really doing was taking responsibility for myself and my own actions. I accepted him for who he was and that set me free. And I discovered that forgiving someone is both an innately spiritual act that brings us closer to a higher power, and a uniquely human act that connects people in a way that strengthens us all. He recently completed his master’s degree in counseling psychology and hopes to one day work with individuals and families coping with alcoholism and drug abuse.
But once he became a parent himself, Mc Guire realized that forgiving his Dad would make him a better father to his own newborn son. I blamed Dad for everything bad that happened to me.
My righteous indignation toward those who hurt me was a shield from my pain.
Over the years, his misdeeds and shortcomings became the scapegoat for my own.
The fact that I hadn’t become an alcoholic like him was justification for being irresponsible, dishonest, and thoughtless.
Throughout years of struggle, dysfunctional relationships, and little to no career advancement, I never took responsibility for anything. Then a few years ago, something shocking happened to me: I became a father.
Memoirs are by nature inductive, for most of the content is specific to the person writing.
And yet the task of a memoir is more than mere individual recollection.
One of the origin points of the form lies with a Christian tradition of recording a pilgrim’s journey, so that others may benefit from the knowledge that the pilgrim acquired along the way.
Many memoirs aim to make sense of the past in a way that may be useful to others, and to offer their accounts in a way that is true not just to what the author remembers, but also he or she remembers.
As in life more generally, memoirists may be prompted to return to the past by an event in the present, and this prompting – a kind of task sheet for the memoir – will naturally influence how they remember and write.
The author – philosopher Raimond Gaita – tells us that ‘Plato said that those who love and seek wisdom are clinging in recollection to things they once saw’.
This reference to the Greek philosopher’s work occurs when the boy Raimond is about eight years old.
He seems already to understand much about his father, in particular his father’s goodness, which he finds expressed in his workmanship, his honesty, and his commitment to friends.
And yet, as Plato forewarns us, a search for the ultimate wisdom of such things must come later – several decades on, when Gaita is faced with the task of writing his father’s eulogy.