Life After Death doesn’t Really Matter
This is the beginning of a surreal chapter in my life. My dad was dead and there was nothing left to do but go home to a house that would never hear his laughter again. We would sit by the door and wait expectantly for him to come home, but he wouldn’t come home. Life is very strange after you lose somebody close to you.
The first week after my dad died, my friends (whom if you remember I didn’t think I had because of the way my brain was working) were very supportive, calling me and talking to me on the phone. My cousin Cheryl (the one I used to torture when I was little) stayed over night with me to comfort me. It was one of the weeks that is seared in my memory like a waking dream. The very night my dad died, there was a “spirit” in our house. As I was talking to one of my friends on the phone, I heard the bathroom door close, my dad’s belts rattled. Of course no one was there, the cat was next to me.
My Aunt Karen spent that first night in my sister’s room. She was woken by feeling and hearing someone breathing loudly on her neck. When she reached around behind her back, of course, no one was there. I was both terrified and strangely comforted by this “presence”.
The funeral was sad. My dad had many friends who came to pay their respects. What shocked me the most that day was seeing my dad’s brother Jim. He looked like my dad. He sounded like my dad. He had the same mannerisms as my dad. He could have been his twin brother and I burst into hysterical tears. I had only met the man and his wife one other time in my life, as an infant. Strangely his wife looked just like I had always imagined and/or remembered.
I really became a different person after my dad died. I was still sullen and moody but now I had a good reason to be those things. I slept as much as I possibly could sleep. Sleep was the only place I could pass time without too much pain.
My dad’s “spirit” continued to stay with us in the house. My Uncle Ray actually saw him walk up to the patio door one evening and look into the room. It scared him half to death because he firmly didn’t believe in ghosts. I would hear noises in the house in the middle of the night that reminded me of him walking around, checking to make sure everything was secure. My mom would wake me up at at 3 am saying she heard the front door close. This was frequently the time he would come in when he was alive. We would leave the house for 15 minutes and come home and find things mysteriously moved around. I came home once to find nail polish poured into my pack of cigarettes. Above this was a note, written on a picture my sister drew. The note said, stop doing this, with an arrow pointing down to the pack of cigarettes. I could go on an on about the strange events that occurred the year after my dad died. These events were scary yet somehow comforting.
That August I was sleeping, like I usually did, but when I woke up, I had the strangest feeling. I thought I was going to die the following spring in the month of May. This became an obsessive thought. I couldn’t get rid of it no matter what I did or how I tried not to think of it. I remember learning from one of my aunts that the Christmas before he died, my dad told my grandmother he didn’t think he would live past March; he died March 3rd. I can only imagine how he must have felt. I’m sure this was where the origin of my own thoughts of death came from. I basically went through that year in a fog. I was like an emotional robot on autopilot.
My drive to find someone to love me began in full force this year as well. I had to find someone to replace my dad. Of course at that time I didn’t know that that was what I was doing. I just knew I was missing a huge piece in my heart. I had to fill it up with the love of someone else. In the process, I managed to lose my virginity to a stranger in the alley around the corner from my house. My mom was away and I stayed home alone, so it was the perfect opportunity. It was a huge let down, of course. It was gratifying only in the most base lustful way and I didn’t like the aftermath. I found out the guy was in a relationship and he not only liked girls, but also boys. The whole affair was just embarrassing and shameful. I then spent weeks waiting to see if I was pregnant. Thankfully I wasn’t. I became such a fool for the sake of finding love.
Then I met my first “true love”. We were inseparable. We developed a very unhealthy relationship that led to marriage. I should clarify here that I was the one who developed this into an unhealthy relationship. I was so needy and clingy and broken. It must have sparked something in him that made him want to be some kind of hero. I just loved being with him. He was actually a pretty delinquent kid. He and his brothers were known around the neighborhood as the boys you didn’t mess with. They drank and smoked pot and were just general bad boys. I was sucked into their bad boy lifestyle, living vicariously through their bad boy adventures. Though I have to say, if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know if I would have survived that first year. This twisted “love” gave me a reason to wake up everyday. But even this “love” was not enough.
About six months after he died, my mom told me secret things about my dad. She told me he had been married once before. He had a child from that marriage, a girl. The marriage only lasted a year because they didn’t get along. After the marriage ended, my dad’s life continued to spiral out of control. He spent time in jail for being part of an armed robbery. Jail is what brought him to his senses. Jail helped him turn the corner and come back from self-destruction. I was shocked by what I learned, but I felt compassion toward my dad. I was proud to know how he changed his life for the better. I was also sad because he felt too ashamed to ever reveal the truth to his children.
After this, I still had horrible thoughts of dying and I was just terribly depressed. I felt so guilty for never resolving the fight I had with my dad. I never told him I loved him. I never said I was sorry for the things I called him. As the anniversary of his death approached, I started entertaining thoughts of suicide. I figured nobody would miss me. I was back to thinking I had no friends and nobody loved me. My mom was full of grief herself and, sometimes, wouldn’t speak to me because I reminded her of my father. She saw him in me and didn’t like what she saw.
I remember opening the drawer of pills in the kitchen and arguing with myself to take the pills and just be done with life. The only thing that stopped me was fear. Where would I go if I died? I Remembered being taught in church that people go to hell for committing suicide. That memory was what stopped me. Even my anger toward God didn’t stop Him from mercifully making me remember the consequences of sin.
I ended up confessing my suicidal thoughts to my aunt and she told my mom and I started going to therapy. The therapist told me the reason I was convinced I was going to die was because I never resolved the fight with my dad. I felt guilty and I felt like I deserved to die. It made sense, but those thoughts never went away until May came and went. After May was over, I felt so relieved. It was about this time that the “spirit” left our house for good. I was sleeping away the day as usual. I don’t think I was dreaming. I woke up because I felt someone kiss me on the cheek. No one was there and I remember feeling sad because I just somehow sensed he was really gone. I used to think it was my dad reassuring me I would be okay, but I’m not so sure it wasn’t the Lord reassuring me I would be okay and He let me think it was my dad because He is just that merciful.