To my father

We saw this coming. You saw,
  and commented on
the emptiness
  that your departure would create,
the space for future lives to fill.

"Death is a part of life"
  or so they say, but you
  knew better, knew
that the end is just the end

Now you're gone, not to a better place,
  not "to" at all, but out of time and space,
  and those parts of you that death cannot erase
    fall short.
You're gone.

I lost you first when I was young,
  a dad replaced by distant tyrant strung
    out on work and caring less
about his family than his monetary stress

You taught me things I'll never know,
  so much I have worked
    so hard to outgrow,
A parent scripts the inner voices
  crafting an adult's neuroses

We found each other two grown men,
  when I was struggling and when
  I lacked the luxury to turn aside
your offered help
  though it bruised my pride

I laugh sometimes at how many of your mistakes
I repeat, along the scripted plan that takes
us by the hand, along the path laid out from birth.
  (The bonds of fate around me always chafe.)
And at how so much of what I try to be,
better than you, a better parent, better lover, better me,
competition underpinning my self-worth,
I got from you.

As an adult, I came in time to respect
  what you did to break the cycle of abuse,
In place of rage and fire, you gave cold neglect,
  and let me be fucked up in my own way

Healing can uncomplicate.
Forgiveness given can recuperate,
And so we got some 20 odd years as father and son.
Grandpa and dad,
  you gave my child the love I craved
    when I was at their age,
and I was genuinely glad.

I recall the last time we hugged, an embrace
awkward as always, like dancers out of place,
But love and pride still unmistakeable and clear.

I was prepared for this a year ago,
  when mortality's brutal taxes laid you low.
We said our goodbyes, asked final questions,
  but it was not the end.

It happened again.

A rush to the hospital, a phone full of text,
  the first was terror,
    and each a little less,
I learned the pattern, came to expect
a routine, new normal, just what happens next,
you get sick, we worry, then
you get better
and we do it all again

the time we don't.