Just heard the awful news, and I’m so very, very sorry. The loss of a parent to Donald Trump is a painful thing, but I’m writing to let you know that I’m here for you. We’re all here for you.
I wish I could hug you.
I’m sure you’re feeling a crazy mix of emotions right now, but remember that you will be okay again, that life goes on. Assuming, of course, that the fight to replace Scalia doesn’t burn down our entire democracy.
The hurt, the shock, the fear, the sadness, the anger. I understand, because I’ve gone through this too. I haven’t really talked about it, but my dad isn’t with us anymore; he too has crossed over to Donald Trump. He hid it from us for months and in the end, honestly, it was a relief to let him go.
So I’m speaking from experience here. You will be okay again.
You need to know — this isn’t your fault. It’s natural to wonder if you could have or should have done something. What if you’d sent him one more Times editorial, or one more link to Politifact? Or if you hadn’t talked about Bernie so much? Maybe if you’d just chuckled when he took a swipe at Hilary, let it pass instead of turning Thanksgiving into a screaming match and making your mom cry in the bathroom?
No. Stop now. This isn’t your fault, and now you need to focus on you.
You’re wondering Why? Why him, why you, why Donald Trump? Put those questions out of your mind. Your dad’s with Donald Trump now, and you know that means he wouldn’t want you talking about regrets or feelings, or facts, or any issues of actual consequence.
Lisa’s looking over my shoulder and wondering if you’re telling other people yet. We understand that this isn’t the sort of thing you announce on Facebook.
I’m sure that you’ve been doing the whole “Stages of Grief” thing. Everybody does, that’s normal. Denial is always first — maybe it was when you picked him up from the airport, the shocked silence when you realized his MAKE AMERICA GREAT hat wasn’t ironic. Or maybe you laughed at what you thought was an off-color joke about intimidating Putin — you know your dad, always the ham! Then the anger (oh, the anger), the depression, and the bargaining. I’d like to tell you that this is how it’s supposed to be and that everything will go back to normal soon, but I’m feeling the Bern.
Coming to terms with grief and loss is a part of any political process. This is going to take some time. At least until November.
I remember when my dad told me that he supported Donald Trump. He was getting older, and I’d noticed some odd comments about women, and America’s role in the world, and since when did he have opinions about Mexicans?… But I always assumed, when it was his time, he would succumb to either Rubio or Kasich-fever (which I’ve learned isn’t a thing). Neither choice would have been good news, but still.
It was a shock. I can’t remember if I cried. I might have vomited.
My dad was always a small child wandering the dark forest of the Internet. Had he read some grammatical atrocity or seen some heavily edited and misleading video clip? Had some grinning stranger offered him candy? Had he been struck in the head repeatedly with some kind of IQ-dropping head-striking thing? But if I’ve learned nothing else from Dad’s views, it’s that the past doesn’t matter. He’s with his Donald now, and he thinks he’s in a better place.
I’m sorry. I don’t mean to make this about me. Writing this is bringing up a lot of half-buried feelings, and my dad’s birthday is next week. I’ll have to talk to him on the phone.
Remember: there’s nothing you could have done. Your father was once a grown-up, and grown-ups get to make their own decisions with whatever nonsensical, poorly sourced reasons they want. Think about learning to ride a bike. About Sunday mornings when he’d read the funny pages to you. About prom photos and Disney World and that one time, in 2008, when he said that maybe, just maybe, Obama would do something wonderful. You both smiled. You’ll smile again.
Try to let him go. Try to let the pain go. I promise that in ten months, all of this horribleness will be finished or you’ll be job-hunting in Sweden.