To My Father

By Allison Carvalho

Dear Dad,

I have so many questions for you.

I have questions like: Were you drunk when you did it? Did your mental illness amplify your alcoholism or was it the other way around? Where did you think you would go? Where DID you go?

Sometimes I have dreams about you and I wonder. Is this my own mind deceiving me, or is this you reaching out? Where are you reaching out from? Did you know that most people have two parents at 21?

That most people don’t know how to talk about dead parents, or suicide or that Father’s Day sucks extra when you don’t have a father? Did you know I would feel like this? Is this what you felt like? What did mom’s face look like when she found you, dangling there in the tool room arch way? Did she scream? Did you? Did you feel cold when your body laid in the casket in the funeral home? Did you feel warm in the ground? What’s it like to be ashes? Did you know how many questions I would have? Like: Does God exist? Will this always hurt? Who will walk me down the aisle? Why did you do this? Did you know I would feel guilt even though I had my reasons for not seeing you when you went into a mental hospital?

Maybe it’s because it felt like too much. Maybe it is because it was too much.

Do you know if it would have been better if I would have seen you those last six months? Do you know if it would have been worse? Did you know that I coincidentally be-friend many people with diseases similar to yours? Did you know that I don’t know if I believe you had a disease? Did you know that whenever anyone says, “he was sick” it feels more like an excuse than a reason? Did you know I am too young for this shit? I am too good to have to deal with this and the myriad of others things you have put us through throughout the years? Did you know that the parent plus loan would have been forgiven if it was in your name instead of moms because dead people can’t pay bills?

Did you like your casket? Or did you think it was too much/too extravagant/too expensive? I thought it was too expensive. I wanted the one that looked like you could have made it. You probably looked at a box similar to this at some point in your life and said, “I could have made that”. Would you have?

How long in advance did you plan to kill yourself?

Why was there a pan in your suitcase? Do they not cook for you in the afterlife?

What was the password to your Netflix account, your email, and your phone?

Did you ever keep a journal?

Why didn’t you leave a note? Did we not deserve that?

How long till I don’t have to fill out paperwork that requires a death certificate? Will that time be better or worse? Is it better or worse to tell people about you, what happened, how it happened? Does it make easier for them? For me? What is truth? How do I find it?

Does life have a purpose, a point?

Didn’t you want to see me graduate college? Didn’t you want to see someone in our family graduate college?

Didn’t you want to finally make it to the Azores?

Didn’t you know how hard this would be?

Did you hear me scream the night my mom told me over the phone? Did you hear me and my mom scream at each other last week when I was home? When I told her, I didn’t deserve this. I should have gotten to be the kid. To be reckless and free.

You took my childhood from me in so many ways. You took college-the good ole days- away. You took friends who couldn’t handle it. You took a boyfriend who I loved-who really, I never should have loved. You took away Tom Petty and Free Fallin. You took away lighthearted visits home. You took away peace of mind.

I can still hear you laughing. Did you care about how this would affect me? My dreams? Did you care that I couldn’t sleep at night or started feeling fucked up? Did you care? Did you remember telling me, in the basement? I was 14 maybe. That you had an uncle who killed himself? Do you remember telling me “He hung himself? Isn’t that just the saddest thing you ever heard?” Do you remember saying this? Why did you do it?

At this point in the letter, you must tell that I am mad at you. I’m not mad at you like fifteen year old me was mad that you didn’t teach me how to drive because you were working late. I’m mad at you because I’m disappointed that you couldn’t handle it and I have to. I’m mad at you and people with two parents. I’m disappointed in the fact that you were supposed to take care of me and you didn’t. I’m mad that life is so shitty and that people don’t want to talk about the shitty things. I’m mad and I’m sad and I miss you and I hate you.

But really hate and love are two sides of the same coin. Coins-change. Do you remember how much change you used to keep scattered all throughout the house? Pennies and nickels and dimes literally everywhere and for no reason.

Can you tell me what the point of life is? Can you tell me how my story ends? Can you tell me where I am going or the future or that you are sorry? Can you tell me that there is a silver lining and that it will be okay?

Can you be right?

dad (1)

Allison Carvalho is a student, artist and aspiring adult. She smiles really big when she talks about things she loves and she loves to talk about gender dynamics, city planning and rap music. She is always a week behind on her word of the day calendar and likes using the word “she” a lot. She wrote this piece because she doesn’t often get too tell people these thoughts. Find her tweeting @all_is_oncarval and look out for her anthology “He OR How I Loved You All Similarly”.

One response to “To My Father”

  1. I have similar thoughts about my father and step father. Neither committed suicide (my condolences) but my father left when I was baby and decided I didn’t exsist. He was also mentally ill alcoholic and addict. My step father came into my life shortly after my father left and he was an abusive alcoholic who up and left after 10 years.

    A father’s role in a child’s life is so very crucial and underappreciated. I’m sorry you’ve struggled with the anger and sadness that was sparked from your father’s mental illness(es). I hope that one day you will find the answers you long for. Though he will never be able to answer them personally, I think that one day you’ll find what you’re looking for within yourself.

    Stay strong and keep on keepin’ on. 🙂

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