September 12, 2003. The world was still reeling from the news that John Ritter had died the day before, when it was reported that Johnny Cash had died.
It was also the day that my adoptive father died. I cannot believe that it's been a full decade since he's been gone. During that decade, my children have both reached double digits in age. I've gone through three cars, moved into a house with my boyfriend and the kids, reunited with my natural parents, gotten engaged and survived losing both my adoptive and natural grandfathers. So much change and yet, if I think about it, I can put myself right back in the moment that I found out my father died. Traumatic...horrifying...and yes, as much as it will make me seem uncaring, brought me a strong sense of relief.
His death meant that I never had to confront him about the abuse. Never had to hear him talk to my natural mother, playing the loving father role that he was so good at in public. Never had to see him at family functions, keeping an eagle eye on my daughter when she ventured too close to him.
And yet, September 12 comes around and I get sad and angry and the grief washes over me in huge waves. For all his many faults and abusive actions, he was the only father I had growing up. It just confuses me and I have no idea how to reconcile my anger towards him with the overwhelming sadness and grief.
I grieve for the father he should have been and for the lost little girl who kept hoping that he'd change.
Each year gets better though. I know that blogging has helped. As have the connections I've made with other adoptees and natural mothers online. I've finally come to realize that I am allowed to feel all the emotions, sometimes all at once. I can grieve and also be so angry about the childhood I lost and should have had. I can be relieved that he's dead and sad that he died alone.