I had rehearsal that day, and on the way there I had this overwhelming feeling building up in my chest, a well of tears springing from a place I wasn’t aware still existed.
That’s when the realization hit me.
My father is dead.
I picked up the phone immediately.
“Call Leon Graham,” I said, and the phone quickly responded and dialed Leon’s number.
He picked up after two rings.
“I’m gonna be late, dude,” I said in a desperate panic, and that was all I could get out. He understood completely.
“Take your time, Isaac. You know you can sit out for a while if you need to.”
“No,” I said as I forced each word out of my mouth. “I’ll be there.”
I frantically pulled over to the side of the road and turned off the engine. It was all I could do to maintain composure.
The level of emotion stored inside screaming to get out was volcanic, and I could do nothing to keep it at bay any longer.
I openly wept as a young child would, and I realized only after a few minutes of this why I was crying.
I was crying for him.
Tears violently flowed, and I hated each one, knowing they were all for Dave Stalansky, the man who had broken me, torn me down and had left me for dead emotionally.
The pain inside was the only thing reminding me I was alive. He had all but murdered me.
I probably sat there for at least 30 minutes, weeping uncontrollably for a man I hated.
But the tears still came.
It’s a weird juxtaposition—love and disgust—and I knew then I had buried something deep inside of me, a love I wasn’t aware I still carried for him. After all, he was my father.
How could I have completely separated my heart from him?
I knew I hadn’t.
I felt peace from the release, and I knew the presence of God was with me, pulling this pain out of me almost physically, which might have been why I needed this moment.
All the time before, the funeral, the estate review, all of it I had felt nothing. Why now?
All I can reason was that it hit me when I was alone, and I realized then the hold he’d had on me had been eternally broken.
Still my heart ached.
That was the only moment I grieved for him, and it wasn’t something I shared with anyone until long after this moment had passed. I wasn’t aware I still carried anything for him.
I wiped my tears and realized I had been sitting on the side of the road for nearly 45 minutes.
Leon and the others had probably started without me, and I wondered if I should turn around and drive home, seeking out the security and understanding within the arms of my love.
But I couldn’t go. I had to press on. I had to push forward.