Though it seems as though my father died only yesterday, it has been over a year now. I guess it has taken me a while to really understand why his death has been so devastating for me. I understand the grieving process as explained by so-called experts, though I must admit that I am not particularly impressed with the idea of reducing human emotions to an external forumla. But regardless of the expectations of the 'normal' grieving process, the death of my father goes far beyond a simple process of grief. It has taken a bite out of me and I know I will never 'recover' from it.
My father and I were closer than any father and son I have ever met. Part of this was simply because my parents were divorced when I was seven and I lived with my father in a separate country from my mother and my sister. We became even closer when I started very young to pursue a career in art and I eventually attended the Alberta College of Art where my dad taught for twenty years. After I graduated from Art College, my father and I regularly worked together in a professional capacity as well as constantly supporting each other in the personal development of our art work. For most of my years as an adult I lived with my father, even when I was married and had a child.
All of these elements of our relationship suggest an unusual closeness. However, it was a different aspect of our relationship that made my father and I exceptionally close, and that is that we were misfits in the world together. I have been a misfit since I was a child. I have never fit in anywhere that I have been. I began to have what might be considered "mental problems" from a young age and I was never able to 'fit in' anywhere. I have had friends but very few close ones. Art and Literature were fitting pursuits for me because one can disappear into a separate reality and society's expectations of you are very different from people in the 'normal' working world. My political, ideological, and aesthetic beliefs are so alien from the vast majority of people that I feel out of place with my own species. But all my life, my father and I could relate to each other. He was, in his own way, a real misfit. He grew up in a very working-class environment, but was determined to live a very different life from his father. He dropped out of school when he was 14 and did dozens of different jobs, eventually ending up in art college. Even as an artist, my dad did many different jobs and the only place he came close to 'fitting in' was as a teacher. But together, my father and I understood each other's alienation from society and our friendship was one of the only places that I felt as though, even though I am a misfit, I was somewhat at ease. Even when he was very sick, my dad and I could laugh together and sometimes it felt as though it was worth living just for those moments in which I didn't feel so separated from the world.
I am sure that it sounds like self-pity, and perhaps there is a significant element of that in my recent experiences. But without my dad I feel a whole lot more separated from the world in which I live. He is sorely missed.