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  • Writer's pictureEmily Taylor

One year later

Yesterday was never going to be easy.


A year ago yesterday, my dad passed away. The past year, overall, has been rough and emotional. There were some high points, but we lost family members, and we struggled through a lot of things. We’re still doing so.


Talking about the sadness is difficult because feelings are so big. Talking about it, dealing with the emotions, acknowledging that it is a very complicated and complex situation with unanswered questions and pain for a lot of people, all of this is part of it. And once you start delving into that stuff, it takes a great deal of time and energy to unpack. So, I don’t talk about it because trying to figure out where to begin is overwhelming and exhausting.


It took 10 months for his oldest daughter to actually inter his ashes. When I asked in March, she had said “late summer.” And then, when late summer rolled around, I asked again. She didn’t respond. She didn’t even tell me when they did it. I heard from other people that she was finally taking that step. My mother-in-law died in October, was cremated, and we had a service for her before my father was placed in his niche in the cemetery. My half-sister still has not gotten a plaque for his niche, a plaque included with the cost of the niche he purchased no less. She’s content to leave him unremarked as some sort of petty punishment for his transgressions. She took the opportunity to craft an obituary that was more of a memorial to her mother than him, and neglected to mention so many things about him. I was fine with her leaving me out of the obituary, but he was rightfully proud of the awards he had received as an engineer, and she absolutely neglected to mention them.


I wish this was just a story that I made up in my head, but she wrote him a letter that essentially said he had to apologize to HER for his relationship with my mom. And, if he didn’t, then she would withhold her family from him. She said this to an 85-year-old man with dementia. We found the letter among the things she left when she cleaned out his room. She left so much stuff behind with the orders to donate or toss it. I told his care facility I would take it all and sort through it. She took his notepads and his books. She left all the letters, clothes, cups. Some of it, most people would consider trash.


I have several of his half-finished crossword books. In a way, as I look at them and work through them, it is like doing the puzzles with him. I know we all grieve in our own ways, but I also know that he is gone. And her anger towards him only hurts those who are still here. I know that my existence destroys her carefully curated image of the picture perfect family, and she wants to pretend we don’t exist. And that is her choice, but he still deserves a grave marker. And she doesn’t get to craft an image of the saintly daughter when she’s taking her anger out on a dead man.

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