I let out a long slow breath and opened the letter with a pen that was sitting on the table in the room I was in. I unfold the letter and began reading it. It felt almost surreal to be reading something my father wrote. It was almost like I could hear his voice saying the words, as I read them to myself.
If you’re reading this, then I never got to say what I wanted to say in person. I’ve put it off far too long and I’m sorry. Your mother is sick. I’m not sure what stage she may be by the time you read this but know I’ve taken care of everything should things get bad.
Her disease, Alzheimer’s has been slowly robbing her from me. Symptoms first started showing up about a year after you told us about Aidan. At first I thought perhaps it was just denial. That she couldn’t accept the fact that he was really gone, when I had to remind her he moved out and that he had died. But then she started exhibiting other signs, too. Once she was diagnosed I knew what was in store and that’s when I had began making arrangements for her.
I knew you’d come back, Son. I knew you would do the right thing. I’m sorry the rift between us ever happened. I was too harsh on Aidan. I see that now, but it was hard not to blame myself for Aidan, for him being gay.
I paused, reading the letter. Blame himself? Why…? How would he think…? I couldn’t fathom a reason, so I continued reading.
It’s not Aidan’s fault that he’s gay. It’s mine. I’ve known my entire life that I was gay.
Wait what?! I stared at the letter reading that part several times, thinking it must have been a slip of the pen, but then he just continued on…
You think social norms are bad now? I didn’t accept it. My own father would have tried to beat it out of me if he ever knew. My mother I think had an idea, but if she did, she kept that discovery to herself.
As I got older, I thought of coming out, embracing that side of myself. I sought guidance. I can’t say it was the best, but I learned as I tried to prioritize my wants that what I wanted more than being accepted was I wanted a family.
As you can imagine those wants were very conflicting, but then I met your mother. She too wanted a family more than anything, she was totally accepting of me and I fell in love. I never meant to be such a miserable failure as a father.
I started the company to provide for our family. I wasn’t ready for the success that it had. It quickly grew beyond me and had a life of its own, stealing mine from me. I couldn’t keep up without giving it my full attention, and I missed out. I missed out on everything that I told myself that I ever wanted.
I missed out on our family, on you, on Aidan. I kept telling myself there would be more time but weeks became month, months became years and in the end, I lost you both. You have no idea how many decisions I am regretting at this moment.
I didn’t mean to push Aidan away. I knew the life he chose would be difficult, and I feared dangerous. Aidan made his choice, but I wanted to protect him from it, but the more I tried to discourage him, the more adamant he became.
When you called, and we learned about Aidan’s death. I didn’t reach out to you because the news caused something inside of me to snap. I wasn’t in my right mind for a while. I kept this information hidden from everyone I knew except your mother. She stood by my side and got me the help I needed.
I got better only to have her fall apart and there was nothing I could do to stop it. Now the business became more important than ever, because I needed it to take care of her, to take care of you, but I learned that I was sick.
I started having seizures. At first they thought it related to my emotional state, since I was already being treated for depression and anxiety, but then they discovered a tumor in my brain. It was inoperable. That’s why I’m writing you this letter Alex because I know I’m on borrowed time.
Should anything happen to me, I’ve taken care of all arrangements for myself and for your mother. Get in touch with my lawyer. The will has everything laid out for you.
If you’re reading this, then I’ve died suddenly and failed to reconcile with you, but please know I am truly sorry for all that I’ve done and all that I’ve failed to do. I doubt that is any consolation to you now, but it’s all I have left to offer you. I’m sorry, Alex, that I wasn’t a better father to you and to Aidan. That I let my dream of a family slip through my fingers and have left you with nothing but material possession to take the place of the memories I should have created instead.
I couldn’t believe what I was reading. My father was gay, but he chose to have a family. He was mad at himself, not Aidan that Aidan was gay. He blamed himself for because he couldn’t protect his son, his worst fears realized. His son murdered for being gay.
I leaned back in my chair trying to take it all in, but my brain refused to comply. The letter made mention of my mother being accepting of my father but not if she was aware of my father being gay. I wasn’t sure this was something I could even discuss with her. Last thing I would want to do is to add to the stress she was already experiencing.
I remember her words when she thought I was Aidan, about my father and how much he really loved him. I guess that was true. I ran my hand over my face. My elation in getting things done became replaced with the fatigue of depression. Something I hoped was temporary and not inherited from my Dad.
I flipped to the last page of the letter, uncertain I wanted to read more but believing getting this over with the best decision.