Tonight I will be attending the wake for my friend's father, who died yesterday of stomach cancer. I'm pretty nervous and apprehensive since this will be the first wake I've ever been to and I am not terribly familiar with Japanese Buddhist customs. I don't know what to expect but people here are kind and accommodating so I should quit stressing.
Naturally the recent events combined with the onset of rainy season have gotten me thinking about life and its dreadful impermanence. I've always had a strange relationship with my father - not in the traditional "daddy issues" sense of neglect or abandonment, but more in that I feel extremely protective of him and spend a lot of time worrying about his health and well-being. He is not well, physically or mentally, coming from a very difficult past and dealing with a multitude of minor health problems which add up. It actually tears me apart to think that he will die someday, and I will have done less than I possibly could to maximise our time together.
I feel guilty for every time I have ever disappointed him by making bad choices, guilty whenever I get on a plane headed to Japan, guilty whenever he does me a selfless favor out of the goodness of his heart, guilty to the point of not ever wanting to live far from him ever again because he will miss me and I don't want him to have to deal with the pain of missing someone. He's not a happy person, has never been and may never be, and I feel responsible for making sure he can live vicariously well through my own happiness. I don't think he knows I feel this way about him, and I hope he never finds out because it would cause him great undue stress.
Since I am halfway around the world, I called him this morning with a great lump in my throat and tears in my eyes to tell him I love him. If you love your father, you should tell him. Life is fleeting.