It's hard to really understand how important someone is to you until their position in your life becomes threatened. This is that concept of "you know who your friends are" when things start to get tough in life, but I think it's rather fucked up.
Fucked up because it's even harder to tell someone "hey, I'm really glad you're in my life right now, and while I'm not looking to jump to a greater significance before it's time, but I wanted you to know that I don't think I'd be able to function as well if you weren't around." Even when there isn't a dire circumstance forever looming itself over your life. Maybe that's why we have each other though, so we can have those feelings and that security and not really need to say it outloud...
But when you're losing someone slowly, there's this odd perspective that you start to gain. I don't quite know how to describe it, because I'm only starting to gain as I'm beginning to lose my father but the veneer is stripped away sort of and all you see is what's underneath. The human-ness of my father becomes not only more evident and obvious day by day, but more important.
Our relationship has been tumultuous, as anyone who knows me well knows. For a while our only contact was written. He would write me letters, I would write back. Sometimes he would send a money order, just cuz he could and wanted to, but it was like we were on opposite sides of the street and I was refusing to look at him and definitely didn't want to walk on the same side, so he would just pace me from where he was, letting me know that he was there when I wanted to see him.
I think he did it that way because he had just lost his sister, and realized that his children were more important than his ego. During that time, he also built up really solid relationships with my siblings, to the point where they don't remember the bad stuff that I do, and I'm really glad of that. When I realized how much he had changed, and how the father they knew was not like the one I remembered, I began to soften toward him. He had worked hard to build that relationship with my brother and sister, and I also realized he was working hard to rebuild a relationship with me.
A few years ago, when time had had its chance to soften me, give me more wisdom, and teach me that being right wasn't always the most important thing; I started really having a relationship with him. We would talk sometimes, be open and vulnerable, and I eventually got to the point where I would say "I love you too", instead of "thank you" (which was a big deal). And it almost feels like just when that was really starting to become strong and influential for both of us, it's very slowly being pulled away.
I don't know. Maybe his mission in life was to become daddy again. His efforts don't erase what happened before, it's not alright, but the efforts he did make with me as an adult made it possible to make new memories. At least whatever we have built is not being lost all at once, but it still feels unjust that it be taken away mere moments after being forged.
Or perhaps more just because now time and human-ness won't be able to tarnish what we have built.