For many years he was my everything. He knew me like nobody else could. He knew what made me laugh as well as cry. He knew what I drew confidence from as well as what made me shake in my shoes from fear. I thought I knew him, too, because that’s what good friends do: share with one another.
But I realized on one defining afternoon in the Fall of 1979, that I didn’t know him as well as I thought. That was the day he committed suicide.
Could I have been a better daughter? What did I miss?
I’ve spent lots of hours and tears over the past 30+ years revisiting those questions. Those thoughts controlled lots of my thinking, and my preoccupation with trying to understand his choice haunted me. It wasn’t until I entered a 12-step meeting and started working on what made me me, that I began to understand who we both were.
I came to understand my compulsive personality. I began to understand my choices and why I made them. And I came to love and respect myself the way God wanted me to all along.
I tell you all of this because while going through some of Dad’s pictures and prized possessions, I found a copy of The Serenity Prayer:
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
Did Dad deal with compulsions, too? Did he try to distinguish what he could control from what he couldn’t? In my own quest for serenity, this is one answer I need to accept that I will never know on this side of Heaven. And I’m fine with that being okay.