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only 36 more shopping days…

Today I got the newest email from the in-laws, looking for a Christmas list for Happy Fun Baby. Christmas. Isn’t it way too early to think about Christmas? Except that clearly isn’t true, since it’s only a little over a month away.

The thing is, I haven’t even really started thinking about the kid’s birthday, which is December 13th and will require a celebration of some sort, obviously. A party, one might say, except that we can’t have a party at our apartment because we like our friends and do not want to have to conduct some sort of Party Lottery to determine the lucky three people who will be able to fit in our living room. (Did I mention our apartment is small?) So I need to find a venue.

Here’s the problem with that: it has to be someplace toddler-friendly but also low-key and somewhat inexpensive, which sort of invalidates my favorite idea (party room at the Children’s Museum). “Why not something like Chuck E. Cheese?” says Not So, whose other suggestion was glow-in-the-dark miniature golf (for a bunch of two year olds, which - the mind, it BOGGLES). I responded by saying that if we did Chuck E. Cheese I might as well just wear a shirt that says “THAT Mom” across the chest, because - two year olds. All a two year old requires to have a good time at a party is cake and some toys. They do not need video games and giant animatronic singing mice. Rats. Is Chuck E. a mouse or a rat? I don’t think I’ve ever thought about it before. Weird.

Also not the point, because whatever arrangements I was going to make should have been made weeks ago, as I am almost certain that every other December birthday-having kid’s mom did. Because there’s only one day we can do the party. Because I like to live on the edge.

And don’t even ask me what we’re going to get him for his birthday. My brain only holds so much.

the winter of my damn discontent

I was feeling all peaceful and mushy yesterday, until I spoke to his damned caregiver. Let me say: if he did not deliberately engineer his own death just so he wouldn’t have to listen to another word out of that woman’s mouth, I will be very, very surprised. During the course of our “conversation” (for the record, the only reason I called her was to find out what we should do about his motel room) she recited, unprompted and as if by script, a list of “wonderful” things about my father, including the fact that he had just been approved for Section 8 housing and would have been moving into his own one bedroom apartment on Monday, if he hadn’t gone and kicked the bucket; how “funny” and “kind” he was (to which I say HA); and how sweet she thought it was that he kept every single letter my sister ever sent him. NICE.

Then she wanted to know when the last time I’d seen him was, and when I said “Oh, about 12 years ago” she was all “Oh! Oh! My!” like she hadn’t realized she was talking to Antichrist Incarnate. Dude: whatever. WHY DON’T YOU TELL ME ANOTHER STORY ABOUT MY DEAD FATHER’S GREAT SENSE OF HUMOR? Which she did, because the woman could not stop talking. And then she wanted to know where his memorial would be, and when I was arranging it. DO THE WORDS MIND YOUR FUCKING BUSINESS MEAN ANYTHING TO YOU? Not that I’m bitter. But I don’t need some stranger with a crappy career telling me I’m a bad person because I don’t want to arrange a fucking memorial for my dead abusive father. SO SORRY. DOES THAT GO AGAINST YOUR WORLDVIEW?

I am misusing the caps lock. If you are wondering: yes, I am shouting. For no reason. Because why do I care whether my father kept all of my sister’s letters and none of mine? (These were all old letters, obviously.) It’s not surprising; he’s always held me to a higher standard than her, so I’m sure the fact that I refused to play his games was a bigger deal for him. Or not. It’s possible, you know, that he just didn’t like me. WHATEVER. Dead now.

I wonder what stage of grief this is?

the mortality express

You’d think that the news of my father’s death would be one of those hugely traumatic things that leaves an indelible mark on my psyche. And, in a way, you’d be right. This is me: I’m marked. But not by his death, which was a long time coming and not exactly unexpected.

Here’s what’s good about my dad being dead:

  • I don’t need to worry that he is going to show up anywhere that I am
  • He isn’t going to demand to meet his grandson
  • There is no chance that he will find my number and call to manipulate me into doing things for him or giving him money
  • He will not find me on the internet and say cruel things on my websites, or try to discredit me in any way
  • I can finally get around to some serious grieving

Because, see, my grief process has been on hold for the past…however many years (10? 20? Longer? I mean, we can date it from when I cut off all contact with him [10], or from when I had enough and ran away from home when I was almost 13 [20], or we can count it from the first time he hit me and made me feel bad about myself, and who knows when that was). I haven’t let myself access any of the good memories I have of my father, because if I did I’d leave myself open to another one of his attacks. I’d be, in the parlance of sleazy lawyers everywhere, asking for it.

Here’s what sucks about my dad being dead:

  • He still gets the last word: my sister and I have to pony up for his cremation expenses, which I can’t help but feel he would have deliberately pre-arranged if he could as a last “fuck you” to his daughters
  • Finding someone who will cremate a 400 lb man is somewhat challenging
  • And now I have to figure out what to do with all the crap he left in the motel room he’s been living in for the past 6 or 7 years, which, if any of his past residences were any indication, is probably a pit of garbage, rotting food, and computer parts

Notice that none of the negatives include “his being dead.” One could argue that being bedridden and alone in a cheap motel room for several years, with his only human contact coming from a state-mandated caregiver, was a terrible way to live, so his death must have come as a relief to him. One could argue that, but I won’t. His death is a relief to me.

Maybe I sound ice-maiden like, which would just figure, since I feel raw and unfettered for the first time, oh, ever. I could be pedantic and list all the things he did to make things the way they are, and follow them with an even longer list of reasons why I’m justified in feeling however I feel. But what would be the point of that?

I’m sad, but I’m not sad that he’s dead. I’m sad because he’s dead; because I can finally let myself love him without him hurting me.