Sometimes when people talk to me about their dads I have noticed a hesitancy, as if they are somewhat uncomfortable discussing their living paternal figure while mine is dead. I can roll with it, after all it totally sucks that my seemingly healthy father dropped, rather fell over, dead while riding his bike. This doesn't arise too often but when it does there is always a small awkward moment until I reassure that person that, no, I won't go all psycho on them out of some sort of demented dad jealousy.
Yesterday while chatting on the phone with Matt I encountered such an odd pause. Matt has been back in Utah for the past week tending to his father who is dying of Stage 4 melanoma. He was relating to me how Tom, his dad, seemed so much happier now that he is out of the hospital and home on hospice care. I could hear the elation in his voice when he paused and started to change the subject. When pressed as to why, he replied, "Well, I feel a bad talking about my dad and how great it is that we have this chance to say good-bye. I know you never got that with Pete." No, I didn't. And it sucks. Everyday. He was ripped from our lives. There for breakfast and never again home for dinner. But I don't begrudge Matt and Jen this time to say their good-byes, I am thrilled they will get some sort of closure. So I said, "Dude, no dead dad guilt. There's enough guilt in this world and to have it over this simply doesn't work. Save it for something flashier and be at peace with where you are."
There isn't a day that goes by when I don't miss my father. I hate it that we never got to hug him good-bye, that laying my head on his cold chest when he was on a gurney was the only way. But the truth is that for him to be here one moment and gone on to wherever the next was a beautiful gift for him in terms of dying. Sucks for us, no doubt about it, but for him I am grateful he never suffered.