“The past can’t hurt you anymore, not unless you let it.”
~ Alan Moore, V for Vendetta
With no response, I uttered again, “Daddy?” But still he slept. Soundly, and on his back, in the dark coolness of their bedroom. Peaceably he snored, with a tranquility seldom seen during his waking hours. Presumably off again, on one of his Navy-day adventures. Loving the song, women, and wine of yesteryear. The times he used to speak to us most fondly about. The man he had once been, and one could only assume, wished that he still was.
But this was not about him. No, it was about me. As would become so much a pattern to my life, it was about me. And as would become so much a pattern to my life, though I desperately needed to reach out to someone, I didn’t, for the mere fear of not wanting to “bother them.”
Meekly, from the corner of their big bed, I murmured again, “Daddy?”
“Daddy. Please wake up daddy. Please tell me everything is OK daddy. Please let me know that all my fears are unfounded. That all the monsters and the fiends and the ghosts are all make-believe, daddy. In my head, daddy. Please tell me that daddy, please.”
But he didn’t. In part because he couldn’t. In part because it would have been a lie. In part because his dream-land adventures were, in themselves, an escape for him as well. An escape from the very same monsters and fiends and ghosts as were plaguing me.
“Daddy, please tell me they’re all make-believe. Please.”
“But they are not, my son. They are real, even if they won’t eventually appear as you currently imagine they will. Even then, they are real. The monsters are real, though they look much more like incompetent and ruthless bosses and overlords, than they do oversized creatures with maddened eye, and glaring teeth. And the fiends are real too, even if they look much more like friends and relations who you felt you could trust – did trust – only to have them use that trust against you, pushing upon all the softest spots you shared with them, in an effort to have their way.”
“But the worst son, the very worst are the ghosts. The ghosts that come screaming right up from the roots of your family tree. The ghosts of your bad habits and phobias. The ghosts that tell one that they’ll never be good enough, while telling another that there could possibly never be another wiser or more correct. The ghosts that bind a family to its own destruction, the ghosts that kill some with self-loathing, while suffocating others with pride. These ghosts of who you are – though you aren’t – these are the very worst.”
“Daddy, does it get better? Do they go away?”
“For me, they did not. Because I never allowed them to, because I had to maintain control. You know many like that, and you too suffer the same disease. They’ll get you in the end as well, if you’re not careful.”
“Daddy, what should I do?”
“The easiest thing in the world to do, the hardest thing in the world to do. Give up control. Just give it up. Surrender. When the farmer plants the seed, does he fret everyday over whether it will grow or not? No. He simply does what he knows needs to be done for a good crop to result, and then lets Nature do the rest. Be like the farmer, son. Plant the seed, do your best, and wait. Just surrender to Life, and wait.”
“Will they go away then, daddy? The monsters, the demons, and the ghosts?”
“The first two, no, but the third can be greatly reduced. Recognize them for what they are, and you can then work towards dismissing them. Keep in mind, your old life will be destroyed in the process, but it’s simply a skin waiting to be shed, after all. And once done, the monsters and the fiends become inconsequential. A mere nuisance to the New You. The new beautiful, liberated and True You.”
“Is what you’re telling me true, daddy?”
I’m back in his room, and he is still asleep. As he has been this whole while. Back then, just for the night; and now, forever.
The final question I fear, was left unaddressed, as it can only ever truly be answered by me. In my own time and fashion.
“In my own time and fashion, daddy. I will surrender, and I will see.”
Happy Fathers Day, dad. The adventure continues…