March 28th, 2008
If you read here two days ago, you read the post I wrote about finding some grief to be less about the loss and more about the show.
I’ve since erased that post.
Since then, I’ve done nothing but reflect on my own relationship with my godfather. The deeper I’ve dug, the more cause I’ve found for feeling ashamed – ashamed of my failings, mainly. There were so many things I could have done better – or just done. I could have visited more. I could have called more. I could have told him how grateful I was for his presence and guidance. I invited him to my wedding, but could have done more to see to it that he actually got there. I could have included him more prominently in the high points of life.
I did none of those things. The only thing that gives me any consolation is that after a few years of separation – brought on by me, mind you – I did initiate contact once again and at least for the last 2 years we were in touch.
But still, not often enough. And therefore that is small comfort when I think of what could have and what should have been. So now I, who used to talk of living a life with no regrets because hey, you can’t change the past, find myself inundated with them. This is the first time I’ve ever lost someone so close to me and felt that I did not do enough. Towards me, he far surpassed my own mother in grace and forgiveness – he was always helpful, gracious, and kind to me, always. Always. Frankly, if I’m going to be honest, he was a better parental figure than both of my parents, certainly my useless father, and even, when it came to guidance and teaching about self-respect and epitomizing humility, my mother.
In thinking of my decidedly passive behavior towards him, I thought about that previous post. And began to wonder who I was to judge anyone else’s grieving process and the forms it might take.
For my part, my own regrets have brought about a contemplative silence that some might mistake for lack of feeling. In fact, it is the exact opposite. I am so overwhelmed by all of my realizations: that I should have done more, that I wanted to to do more but always thought I had more time, that I always felt that doing more required some ostentatious grand gesture, when all that was required was time and perhaps a little more thoughtful effort.
I have learned that too late. But in my learning, I also recognized that others might view my reticence as a lack of grief, when it is absolutely anything but. So again, how dare I judge another’s grief, or interpret it with any negativity?
I have listened to my aunt over the past several weeks talk to me about the things she did with and for my godfather, actions that didn’t just ease his final days but were comforting gestures of respect and friendship over several years. Simple things, mind you, but good and comforting things. I am humbled when I hear her speak. I am humbled and brought to further tears.
Oddly enough, over the last several weeks when I tried to contact him in the hospital I was always just missing him, somehow unsuccessful at finding him. He’d be moved from one place to another, or I’d catch his voicemail on his cellphone, or the hospital or nursing room staff wouldn’t pick up at all. My aunt, on the other hand, was always up to date, and I was reduced to hearing news of him from her or my grandmother. I remember feeling frustrated but also acknowledging privately that it was no more than I should have expected, that I could not come breezing in after my prolonged absence and expect to be granted an immediate full audience. Mind you, it wasn’t that he was deliberately avoiding me, or at least not that I felt so. Rather, it seemed more that the universe was allowing things to take their proper order – and I, in staying away and out of touch for so long, had weakened our universal relationship such that instant and frequent contact, especially at my behest, would be difficult to achieve.
One of the things that did prevent me from being a more frequent visitor, or so I thought, was our crappy car. Afraid to go too far afield with it, I sat here when I could have rented a car and visited for a morning or so, even well before he was in the hospital. I called him often. But I did not go to sit with him and chat, did not go to say hi, see if he needed anything, did not pack Pudding up to take him for a visit although I did so want him to see Pudding. Always I thought I would have more time. As soon as I got a new car, I told myself, me and Pudding will hightail it over there, yessirree.
Well, tomorrow I will have it.
And tomorrow is too late.