I lost my father to mental illness way before he passed away

I am feeling reminiscent and introspective this evening. Recalling the days of my youth when I was made to visit my father in the summer and every other weekend sends my thoughts toward despair. He was at times a decent man but I can’t remember him being that great of a father figure to me. Though he did love me…I know he did. But he was a sufferer of undiagnosed mental illness and an alcoholic. He was abusive so my mom divorced him but that didn’t free me from his love. Yes, his love and my love for him was like a heavy weight that pulled my spirit down.

Every time I visited him it was as if there was a muted depression filling the house or trailer he occupied. I had few toys there and most of the clothes he kept for me were too small. He would often sleep all day drunk in a recliner leaving my brother to be my occasional sitter but mostly my tormentor. My brother would make fun of me and shun me from his play. I once made a paper doll to play with because I had no toys and my dear misguided brother ripped it to shreds and called me stupid. That memory still hurts for some reason. It was like a childhood rock bottom. Father passed out, brother being hateful, and no mommy to rescue me because it was my dad’s weekend.

I spent my adolescence imagining what I would feel the day my dad passed away. It would give me cause to cry after school and at night. It gave me nightmares. It still haunts a small portion of my head but now it is the memory of seeing him on life support in the hospital when I was 18 and in my first semester of college. He died from alcoholism and it was a sudden unexpected death. His ventilator reeked of vomit and stomach acid and (this could be my imagination) alcohol.

I was relieved when he passed because I knew his suffering from depression and addiction was over. I also felt guilty for feeling that way.

Now I am almost 31 years old, 13 years after his death and I can still smell the ventilator and also see my paper doll torn to shreds at the hands of my brother.

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