There are a lot of people I miss in this world, but I will not miss my Dad.
Family and friends gone, people I never really knew gone… and I miss them. My own father though, it will be a relief.
That’s a sad thing to say. Maybe a cold thing to say… but it’s also a very true thing to say.
My Dad has been dead for 30 years. In his place, there’s been a shambling corpse, a zombie… A zombie that doesn’t eat brains perhaps… but a zombie that eats emotion. That makes you think there are pieces of it that are still there, that you can still communicate with… that you still can believe are the guy that I remember and love from my childhood…
But it’s not. It’s a sneaky and sad trick. What’s left of that shambling corpse is not my Dad. It’s an abomination that I sometimes feel for, but more often do not. That I have had hope for, but no longer do. That I thought I felt nothing for… but I instead feel very little.
I remember as a kid, loving my Dad. Wanting to hug my Dad. Looking up at him with the same look in my eyes that my son now looks at me. Wanting to be my Dad. Then I remember that changing… slowly… but then quickly… and completely.
As he started to change… as that zombie bite that he must have picked up at some point started to affect him more and more. When the present became something that his zombie brain wandered farther and farther away from. To the point that all he could remember were the days when he was alive… and with that unstoppable flow of time, even for a zombie, that got farther and farther in the past. Farther and farther away from reality.
Of course, there were other aspects that caused this change. Other than that ill-fated run in with a zombie that must have started the initial change.
Alcohol. Weakness. Bad choices. Inability to take responsibility.
I think these things just amplify once you’re a zombie… just as I think there’s a certain irony to a zombie whose first instinct is to run away.
So I guess, when I look back… I do miss that guy that I remember as a child… and I suppose that’s the only time I’d actually call him my Dad. So that makes my first sentence here factually incorrect.
I guess I could say, “There are a lot of people I miss in this world, but I will not miss the zombie my Dad became.”
That’s a little more accurate.
It’s taken me a lot of years to search through myself. To look inside and analyze my feelings, thoughts, scars from the day he turned. From all the days that have come since. It’s impossible to say what might have happened had he not been bitten on that fateful day. If he had stayed a part of our lives…
Though, I know for him, it would have turned out a lot better. Due to a single bite, he lost the chance to know his own kids. See them grow up. See them become often good people. He lost the chance to know what could have been his grandkids.
For the record, they are not. Zombies don’t have grandchildren.
So yes, I won’t miss him… but I will feel for him. I will feel with every ounce of empathy I can muster. I will accept that even though it was his choice to be bitten… it was his choice to shamble away… I feel for all the things that he missed. I feel for him further and further disintegrating every day. I feel for the man he once was…
And I’ve learned.
There were times in my life when I was almost bitten by zombies… but I had the memory and the example of the fall of my own father. I knew the shambling path he’d taken and I knew I could never follow it. That knowledge made me better… made me stronger… and most importantly of all, made me know I could never be a zombie… I would never be him.
So I thank him for that… in his mistakes… I have learned. I will never be him. No matter how alike certain parts of us may be. Plus I know now to always carry a chainsaw… in case I see those undead eyes leering from the darkness.
I saw him for what could have been one last time yesterday. Pathetic wretch. The years of decay so evident. What was not evident was any strength or pride of who he had once been. The flickers of any reality he might once have known very few and far between. Instead, the decay was evident. You cannot live for years as a zombie without loss… and when you lose, those parts don’t grow back.
Any hope I had ever had for a happy end to his story was not to be… except in the happiness that this mockery of who he once was will soon be gone.
I am sorry that the zombie bit you. I am sorry that you became all the things and beyond that you once said you never wanted to be. I am sorry that you lived a pathetic shambling life and afterlife.
I am relieved that it will soon be over.
I will, I swear, never let the zombie bite me.