Posted by Anonymous.
My mother is dying. Slowly, but perceptibly. Fading out, like a blurry xerox, her features sinking inward and melting toward one another. And for the 9 months this has been happening, I have wished it were you, Daddy.
Because Daddy, she showed up. She was there for every lost tooth, every prom, every school play, every nightmare, every spilled juice, every outgrown shoe. It wasn't pretty. She yelled. She was so tired she fell into bed every night. She wasn't good at comforting me. But she was always there, like a rock, a tired, jagged, sometimes cold, but always firmly and absolutely present rock. And you? You missed it all. You were drinking, and then trying not to drink, and then piecing together the ravages of a self from what was left after you stopped drinking, and then you floated off into some kind of oblivion I still don't understand. I played the part you needed me to play: loving and uncomprehending little girl, forgiving adult. But when the diagnosis came in, when they told us what it was and we realized what it meant, all I could do was hate that it wasn't you. Because when she is gone, I will be an orphan. Only you won't know it, and I will have to go through the motions of comforting you about the fact that there's really nothing you can do for me anymore, make up things for you to do so you can feel like a dad after missing it all in the first place.
Mom and I, we had plans. She had bought a house. She was going to move near me, be a grandma, see my kid grow up, be there for her. For the lost teeth and the outgrown shoes and the school plays. That's all gone up in -- not a a puff of smoke, but a steady stream of twisted cells multiplying silently. So she'll go, and my kid won't remember her, and we'll have a photo or two of you, the grandpa she's hardly met, and at some point I will say to her, it's OK, honey, I hardly met him either. But your grandma? She loved you to pieces. She was there when you were born and she held you and rocked you and did your laundry and laughed with me about how stupid cloth diapers were, and she bought you your first clothes and your swim lessons and all your shoes till she died, and she put money away for college. She loved you. She was there for you. She hated not being able to see you grow up more than anything.
And Daddy, you'll never know any of us.