I'll see you later

I lost my dad, when I was fairly young. It's a complex set of feelings, especially as I'm a father myself. (CW/TW, death)

An old rotary phone. This is by the sea at Owhiro bay, Wellington. It is an art piece
An old rotary phone. This is by the sea at Owhiro bay in wellington It's a piece of art that is there to allow people to call loved ones who have passed. My dad never answered when I gave it a go though.

As a dad, I have a very specific anxiety. I suspect it’s not uncommon. I worry about what will happen to my children, if I pass away before they’re adults. I know mine comes from quite a specific place.

My father passed away the month before my 21st birthday. A heart attack. He had a disability, that made him more prone towards them. He’d had circumstances in life around him that triggered the event.

I was the last person in the family to see him. I was living alone in a house in the student area of town. I’d missed his birthday earlier that week as I had had a nasty cold, and hadn’t wanted to pass it on. When he called me I was bunking off of work for an extra day, as the company I worked for then penalised more for events than days.

He’d called me, as he needed someone to speak to about some bad news. I consoled him, made him a cup of tea. I tried to help him think about ways to resolve the situation. Gave him his belated birthday present. Hugged him and told him I loved him, and sent him back out into the world.

Five minutes later, behind the wheel of his car, his heart gave out. I was told his car had turned into the curb and stopped without hitting anyone or anything. A passing nurse had tried to help resuscitate him to no avail. It was his time to go. Just like that.

I felt lucky for seeing him just before and having the moments we had, even under what were bad circumstances. I could’ve been at work. I could have missed his call. I felt guilty because nobody else in the family had that opportunity.

For months afterwards, I remembered which was ‘his’ cup he drank from that morning. It was bittersweet when it cracked and had to go in the bin.

Not a day passes by that I don’t miss him, on some level. Pain and grief diminish over time, with a half life. It’ll never reduce to nothing, and I’ve made my peace with that.

Fast forward nearly 2 decades. I live in New Zealand now. I’m half a world away from then in space and time. I have a wife, and two beautiful children that I wish he’d been able to meet. Some days, I hug them just a bit harder, and I guess all of this is the reason why.

Ka kite anō Dad. I’ll see you later.