When My Father Died I Did Not Cry

Crying Boy

I was eleven when my father was diagnosed with cirrhosis. Mother and I visited him at the hospital a few times. He was scrawny and sad. I pitied him, but I was not too sorrowful. Only frightened.

A few weeks later, on a September afternoon, mother picked me up from school.

‘We’ve brought father home today,’ she told me. ‘He’s going to die soon.’

She paused and looked down at me.

‘Will we managed on our own?’

I didn’t answer.

A week later they buried father. As the coffin was lowered into the grave, everyone cried according to their gender, rank, and station, except a short and frail little boy dressed in black. Me.

I wonder why.

My father never hit me. He rarely raised his voice at me. When I was little he took me to swimming lessons, which I detested. After I had become interested in football he accompanied me to the park. Sometimes we watched football on TV.

He was grumpy most of the time. After he lost his job, he sat all day on the couch and watched TV. He spoke little. And he did not get along with mother. They often quarrelled.

And then each time I went out with him and saw in a shop window a toy or a comic book and I asked him if he could buy it for me he said he did not have money. But on our way back home we always stopped in a cheap bar, where he had at least one strong drink. He always bought me orange juice, but that didn’t improve my disposition much.

Ten years have passed since my father died, and I seldom think of him. Last year I went to the cemetery for the first time in years. It took me a while to find his grave. I touched the tombstone but I felt nothing.

Once mother said that while she was pregnant with me father used to drink and go out with other women. She might have passed her grief to unborn me.

I might have cried in her womb.

Perhaps that’s why I didn’t cry when my father died.

66 thoughts on “When My Father Died I Did Not Cry

  1. Your writing is always beautiful and poignant, but none as much as this.

    My father loved beer more than his life, and in turn, he also died from an alcohol related illness. As I child I often wished death upon him, and as an adult, I just waited for it.

    He died in 2008, when I was 28. I cried, not for him, but for the pain he put on myself and my mother. I don’t think of him much.

    I imagine if he had died when I was 11, I wouldn’t have cried either.

    1. I would not say that my father was a bad man.

      In fact, he was of a mild nature.

      I did not choose not to cry. I just couldn’t.

      Your father must have been really mean if you wished him dead. 😦

      1. As a child, yes he was mean. He yelled and screamed and called me horrid names. My mother worse ones. So yes, it was mean of me to wish him dead, but as a child, I was egocentric.

        As an adult, I understood my father was not only depressed, he had a death wish. The sicker he got, the more he drank and smoke. I understood his need to escape, but never his need to drink and torture my mother.

        My dad was a lovely sad person when he wasn’t drunk. I mourn who he could’ve been, and I hope he is resting peacefully. I sounded too cold earlier, I was moved by your words.

        I suppose that is the goal of a writer though..to awaken feelings? So I applaud you sir. I’ve thought about him more today than in many years.

  2. Thanks for sharing all of that Hatted Boy. It’s a tragedy that parents are many times unable to see the world through the eyes of their most precious gifts…their children. Keep writing my friend.

  3. You write beautifully, showing the power of the absence of emotion. I am lucky to have a wonderful father who I love dearly.

  4. So sad hatted boy – a love that could have been …but wasn’t to be…
    your line I might have cried in her womb – really got to me – powerful…
    I hope you can forgive your father for the reasons you cannot cry…

  5. a comment for a precious person. sometimes it is better not to cry, sometimes it is better to cry. i think what happened was best for you.

  6. I can swear..u r brave n strong enough 2 live even without him..i could say u r lucky..u live wht u r now..father is father..u is u..fighting!!

  7. Beautifully written, Vincent. Exquisitely painful … but I know from reading here, you have it in you to tread the path to overcome sadness and claim victory, however you might define that for yourself. Keep writing. Go back to school, dear boy. It’s not perfect, but sometimes it helps ensure that doors aren’t closed to you. Carmoo is right. You are you. Be true.

  8. If this story is not work of fiction, I gather, You are very young. and for a young man to come up with something so strong!!!… I am blown away. Its beautiful, I am sure I will be back for more…

      1. Hmm, You are just a year older than my youngest sister… but i guess, age is just a number is most cases. You are way greater than your years and I cant wait to read your tales… Just started reading ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’ on your recommendation… will update how i feel about it later…

  9. This is enormously telling, and I feel deep sorrow in this. I do believe when my father dies it will have hardly a skerrick of impact on me, and I will not cry.

    But for a boy who has lost his dad… I feel you are deeply wounded by your father, for you know within that day upon day upon shop window with toy but money only for the drink, you know that he was killing himself slowly, and he knew he was, and he continued to do it.

    An alcoholic needs alcohol truly like you need a drink of water when thirsty – or need breath. They have to break themselves away from it, and feel much fear what life will be like without that to bury their face in, like you would bury your face in a pillow and cry.

    I don’t know your father of course, so don’t mean to say this with authority, but I do feel (because it is nature) that your father would have loved you – but as a man on an island would love his son on the other island, knowing he can’t reach him, hold him, because he has spewed up a sea of pain which lies between the two islands, and is drinking it back constantly, spewing it again, and “needs”, he believes, to drink it back for it’s all he knows of sustenance. He does not know self-sustenance.

    I am deeply sorry, and if I could carry energy in a whisper from where I am right now to you, I would wish to give you warmth, comfort, and a knowing you were loved.

  10. This post makes me very sad, as I had a close and loving relationship with my father. He died when I was 21 and it still affects me today, 7 years later. My father was also a borderline alcoholic and he and my mother fought most of my childhood. I often wished they would divorce, but never did I wish for him to pass.

  11. Vincent, I cried when my father died, his first anniversary will be on Saturday 26 January and I am sure i will cry then too. I think females cry more openly, find it easier to show their feelings in public and I am not a child, I had 50 years with my father, a blessing. My mother was the alcoholic in my family, a lifetime of dysfunctional behaviour had to be unlearned. Getting there.

  12. It sounds as if your dad was an alcoholic, which is a chronic condition I suffer from, tho I haven’t had a drink since 1979. The death of an alcoholic relative often leaves residual feelings of guilt/anger/sadness which your poem seems to demonstrate. Even at this late stage, it would be worth seeking out a local group of AlAnon, Confidential Helpline 020 7403 0888, enquiries@al-anonuk.org.uk. My wife still goes, and it helps her despite my long-term recovery.
    God bless!

  13. but i guess even our parents are another complex of human being, that they might be as well a broken-hearted kids who tried to understand their parents, yet when my father died, the first dirt that thrown into his grave sounded like a slamming door shut, shocked me with the thought that i would never heard him apologize, that it’s over.
    but i guess deepest love come from the experience of deepest undefined wound.
    take a good care of your self anyhow =)

  14. I was hitchhiking in Montana a few years ago, and this lady picked me up. She told me that she went through a divorce a number of years ago. I said that I was sorry. She said, don’t be sorry: I quit grieving when I divorced my husband.

  15. Beautifully written with such emotion that it is almost healing. My father died eight years ago and my life has not been as easy as it was. He was always there to make things right for me. I was separated from my mother and daughter when he died. He loved me and looked after me much more than my mother ever could. I guess when these things happen you develop a talent, in this case your writing, and grow to a transient dialogue, understanding and imagination.

  16. I did not know my father, he drown accidentally when I was very young. But, I can remember the idea of him, and waiting for him to come home. I can remember the feeling of loss that I had, even as a toddler. I know it is because he poured himself into me. That is what makes us have a connection to another person, when we have part of our being mingled with theirs. My grandmother made a relationship with us. She spent time especially for us, probably times that she had other things to do, was tired…but she spent time with us and gave us part of herself. When a person like that dies, it takes part of you with them. My grandfather on the other side of my family made no relation with us and when he died, I did not feel anything.

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