I couldn't send you this letter, even if I wanted to. You are out of reach now. There's always been things I wanted to tell you. I never knew how to say them then. I still
don't know how to say them now.
I lived in your house for sixteen years. You provided for my physical needs. Sure, there was never much money, but we managed. There were other things I needed, though. Things like affection and conversation.
I suppose I could tell you how I never really knew you. We shared a house, but not a life. I treaded softly around you. I was seen and not heard. A small, silent child with a savage hunger for your attention. Don't get me wrong. I'm sure you loved me, in your way. I've since learned it's called The Absent Father Syndrome. You were there, yet out of reach.
You couldn't make it to my wedding. I wanted you to give me away. You were busy with your surfboard business or perhaps unable to face me. I don't really know. You held my baby
daughter in your feeble arms for a brief moment. I wanted to tell you I loved you. It was the last time we saw you.
Nine months later you died.
How you lived was how you died. I was here in Western Australia and you were over there in Queensland. An entire country lay between us. It was more than that, though. The distance was much more than miles of open plains and mountain ranges. It lay in unspoken words and embraces never held.
I couldn't make it to your funeral. Kathy went in my place. I felt I let you down. I wept when Mum sent me the photo of Scott, Bruce and Ian scattering your ashes out in the waves
you loved. I wept because I wasn't there. I wept because you weren't there, anymore. I wept for all the days we took so lightly. A lifetime of days we never used. To speak and hug and laugh and share. There's a song called The Living Years, by Mike and the Mechanics. It came out around the time you died. At first I couldn't stand to hear it. Twelve years have passed since then. When I hear it now, I stop and listen to the words.
I listen to the words of life and I hear your sorrow. I also listen to my children when they chatter and go on. I hold them and touch them. I love them and I tell them so. Mostly, because they're my children and they need that affection, but also for another reason.
It's because I see you in them. I see you reaching out to give the love you couldn't while you were here. I suppose that's all I've ever really wanted to say to you.
I receive your love, Dad. I forgive you, and I love you.