*warning family – this one may be hard to read…*

5.13.15 – this one is from an email draft I never sent… 

My mind and heart feels like it’s stuck mid-grind in a meat grinder, half crushed, half waiting for it just to be finished. That’s the thing with him, he makes my whole world, my strong, spirited sisters and mother, freeze. Everything just stops… and I’m flooded with so many cruel stories that it’s hard for even me to believe it was all at the hands of one person, our father. We knew how to handle the aftershocks – those were always predictable and manageable. It was the battles themselves that nearly destroyed us. We’ve all learned our own version of watered-down explanations to give: trust issues, daddy issues, ‘vulnerabilities to drinking/addiction’, mood issues, a slight hint of detachment… you get the picture. And even now, there’s still this sick little twisted hurt internal kid who is proud of the fact my husband/partner for 10+ years still doesn’t really know the stories that brought those issues into our marriage. Like this one…

There was that one time we all tried to have a proper farewell to Grandma, your mother. She was dying, caught in the slow cruel death-spiral that Alzheimer’s puts the mind and body through. She was living with you before she went into the nursing home, maybe six months before or so. Mom saved money, bought the 4 roundtrip tickets to California, rented the car, and planned her hiatus to visit ‘Jelle.  Her heart would be stuck in the dirt-brown hills of San Jose with us, while we tiptoed around in your life for a few days…

And you would have been proud of us that time, because we really thought we had perfected the art of not really existing in your life, that we knew how to be there but not really. We wouldn’t have disturbed anything. We had most of the rules figured out by that point – go to bed early, before you have to ask. Put all the food away, and never take the last of anything. Eat very little, breathe even less, and no tears. You could never handle seeing the emotions we had, so we perfected the art of walking like Grandma’s porcelain dolls. We would save all our giggles and innocent shenanigans for Grandma, because we wanted to make sure she had some fresh memories to carry with her as she inched closer to Grandpa.

But the thing is, we never got that chance. You strung us along. All those months of planning the trip and you never would set a specific time for us to come to your home, to actually enter into your life in vivo… We waited in the hotel room… waited until we could call you and ask, because we knew we still had to ask and that there was nothing confirmed when it had to do with counting on you.

We called, you took a little too long to answer, and in that split second where my heart left my body, my stomach dropped down to the carpet, I knew you had outdone yourself again. Your official explanation was Grandma was not having a good day, and you never really thought it was a good idea, so it wasn’t going to work out. Sorry. Click. Shattered.

© 2017 erin hoffman – all rights reserved


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