It’s eight years since you died. I’m 40 now – the same age you were when I was born. I can’t imagine the responsibility of having a child, now – let alone a fourth one. I don’t think I could handle that responsibility, right now. And I guess that’s the thing that resonates with me the most – because I don’t think you and dad handled the responsibility of raising me very well, either.
I guess this letter has been long time coming. I couldn’t write it, before, though, because I was too protective of you and dad – “They did the best they could!” I’d tell myself, and anyone else who would listen. But I’ve been doing a lot a soul-searching, and reading, and group therapy, and I am finally able to separate out the aspects: you, Anne Luis, the human, and the challenges you had to face; George Luis, the human, who loved you, but eventually couldn’t face living with you any longer, and the resulting challenges he had to deal with. You, as mother, and him, as father. Me, as a child (and still very much that child, on the inside) – and me, now, making sense of it all, so I can go on growing up, and take care of myself.
Mom, I know you and dad couldn’t have loved me any more if you tried – there was never any shortage of love. I am grateful for that. Dave the Child, is grateful. But you and dad failed Dave the Child quite badly, in teaching him how to grow up, and to take care of himself. You let him down. Not through maliciousness or lack of care, but because your own lives, and your own dramas got in the way.
I missed out on the vital lessons of maturing into an adult. Instead, my selfish childhood tantrums were allowed to grow up along with me, turning me into a selfish, self-obsessed adult. I missed out on the guidance on how to act selflessly, and with maturity and a sense of growth, accountability and responsibility not only for myself, but my family, friends and the community I was part of. I missed out on “the talk” – so that by the time you finally approached the subject, and cajoled my older brother into having the talk with me, I had already learned about sex the traditional way – by having lots of it. I missed the lessons on how to approach my finances with a sense of planning for the future, and instead, watched as you approached them with a sense of naive trepidation, always denying yourself any little luxuries for fear of that inevitable rainy day. So I came to treat money in the opposite way, as something fleeting, to be enjoyed immediately, and in the moment, without any thought of the future. You and dad left it up to my siblings to raise me, which wasn’t fair on them, because they were hardly adults themselves – and so they formed a protective barrier between me and adulthood, and they did this out of love, and a sense of duty. But they had no lessons to impart that could help me, beyond the very rudimentary “Do this, because we say so!” And we all know how a spoiled brat like Dave the Child reacted to that sort of guidance…
So, mom and dad, Dave the Child is finally allowed the space to be angry, without having to justify that you were “doing the best you could”. Dave the Child is angry that he was denied the guidance and help, to grow up. Dave the Adult is learning to take accountability for Dave the Child, and is holding his hand very, very tightly, and is teaching him how to grow up. Dave the Adult understands. I understand, and I forgive you, because I truly do understand that four kids, a divorce, a brain haemorrhage and the resulting loss of a business impacted your lives heavily, and you had no more to give of yourselves. Dave the Child is angry, but working through that anger, because he finally has a safe place to do it.
I love you both, mom and dad. And I miss you terribly. I wish you were here, every day, so you could see and be proud of all the hard work Dave the Adult has put into the last two years, to play catch up in letting Dave the Child grow up the last 40 years in just 24 months. You go on, and rest in peace – it’s OK, now. I’ve got this.
It’s going to be OK.
© Dave Luis 2014. All Rights Reserved.