The last time I spoke to my father before he died from an alcohol-induced heart attack, I told him I didn’t want to talk to him if he wasn’t sober, and that was that. I remember he’d called while my ex and I were eating sweet potato and turkey shepherd’s pie. Standing there in the kitchen we’d just painted barn red for us soon to be wedded rebels, he told me over the phone in his usual drunken way how he’d finally found someone I’d really like, that he wished I was as happy as him, and was I making sure my girlfriend was getting what she needed from me, if she wasn’t he’d be happy to give it to her himself. What an unbelievably jealous and resentful embarrassment I thought to myself, digging into a bowl of homemade black raspberry ice cream. Well, as per usual, he started crying and apologizing for being hurtful, and I reminded him to call me back when he was ready to have a halfway lucid conversation, but that he certainly wasn’t welcome to the wedding under the circumstances. It’s why now I’ve come to believe the pedestal of the nuclear family to be overrated, because when you must choke on a parent’s self-loathing just to feel like a perversion of emotional safety with their projected feelings clogging up your arteries the way cholesterol clung to the inside of my father’s, you let them go with a way back to you, but on your terms. I returned to the kitchen table of common sense and basic need with a smashed potato-sized heart the way I always did after talking to him when he was drinking and thought letting both of us have it was an order, him, for being a complete failure in the eyes of his women, mother included, me, for being a good son. The next call I got not long after that was from my brother who told me our father had died. Her? No, him. Her? No, him. We’d been expecting a call informing us our grandmother had passed, since she was expected to not long after the machines were removed. But he went before her, and I believe he made sure of it. We had a double funeral I don’t remember how long afterward, one, two, or three days who cares, and we all went to the wake and said a few words, and my brother had to leave the room while I turned to face our father’s closed casket and got ready to say mine.