It's January, 2013. I am officially four years older than my dad. I made it.
I'm not sure what that means, or if it means anything at all.
When I first began therapy my expectations were broad and shallow. I wanted to get my professional life back under control. I was tired of feeling sad all the time. There were moments when I was so angry it frightened me. I was exhausted from swinging like a pendulum between these two poles.
Doctor, I'm broken. My dad was a shrink so I'm familiar with the schpiel: "the therapist only points in the right direction. It's up to the patient to walk the path." Yeah, fine, whatever. Fix me already.
I wanted to keep looking out to the horizon, same as always, Mr. Intellectual, suspended at a critical distance from himself. My therapist made me look down and see all the ankle-snapping potholes that perforated the tarmac underfoot. Awareness of potholes in the road--stage one, check. Stage two: avoid potholes, check. One, two, one, two, one, two.
Nothing worthwhile is easy.
I don't want to revisit my dad's death every January, any more than I want to accept that I'll be a flat-butted hairy Viking for the rest of my days, but walking backwards through life will eventually get you decapitated, right? That's the key to the trouble. Turn the problem around until it makes sense. Get the perspective nailed down, lest every step lead to a tumble.
This isn't about dad anymore. It hasn't been about him for decades. It's about me. All of it, from the darkest moments when I think about chasing after him to the brightest, when it seems like everything is possible and within my reach, this revolving storm that hits the same point of land every twelve months is what I have become, sui paternis. I am more than my father's son. I am four years off the map and still going.
Maybe that means as much as I want it to mean.