5 Things I Wish I Could Ask My Dad 10 Years After His Death

by Alden Tan

My dad died when I was 20, 10 years ago. He had ALS, the horrific disease that started the Ice Bucket Challenge.

I was sad then, and I cried a lot when he died. I remember feeling totally lost and unmotivated. I actually almost got kicked out college my first year because I didn't see the point in studying.

That was when I felt it was all meaningless. Today, I'm rather happy. I've moved on, and I've learned and grown a lot as a person.

Yeah, I've had my life lessons. I can tell you a bunch of them, but this isn't about that.

Growing up past your 20s makes you think about a lot. You even think about death.

And today, I look back and wonder why I acted the way I did then. I have so many questions. Here are five surprising things I would ask my late father as an adult:

1. "We weren't even close. Why did I cry so much?"

We weren't close at all. In fact, I was a little afraid of you.

You were strict and aloof most of the time. When you got home from work, you only watched TV.

When I screwed up, you were hard on me. I thought it was pretty normal to be slapped by your parents then.

Yet, it hit me harder when you left. We all sort of knew it was going to happen, but I was still unprepared.

I don't know what answer I would get for this. I cried hard. It was overwhelming to think that somebody you grew up with was gone, just like that.

Yet, I can't help but wonder, why? Maybe I'm overanalyzing everything. Maybe I am trying to find that nonexistent, perfect type of balance between our emotions and thoughts.

I don't know. But, I guess when sh*t hits the fan, you can bet your emotions will always take over.

2. "Why weren't you really there for me?"

Truth be told, I've never had a role model in my life. I am not even close to my own brother, and I never met anyone else who could inspire me. So perhaps, maybe I should blame you.

Maybe I am also a little annoyed that I got you, the aloof kind of dad, instead of the cool sort of dad who would act like a friend and tell me stupid dad jokes.

Yeah, you don't know how lucky you are if you actually get dad jokes. I envy you.

I've learned to accept full responsibility for everything that goes on in my life. I am in charge, but sometimes, I do wonder how my life would turn out if you were actually there for me the entire time.

This also makes me ask, "Why didn't you get me then? Why didn't you bother to understand deeper?"

3. "Why did I inherit your anger? Is this how you felt all the time?"

My mom once told me, "You are him." Yeah, I'm exactly like you.

So, putting together the fact that you were mostly aloof and grouchy, and that fact that I have trouble letting go of sh*t to this day, I guess that's where I got all this anger.

Sometimes I get mad, like, why was I born like this? Why weren't you there to actually help me with it? Why can't it be easier?

But, now I've come to understand. If you felt what I feel today and also had to deal with ALS, I guess you had all the right to be the way you were.

It's funny. From thinking about this, I suddenly know why we're father and son. Through anger and suffering, we shall bond then.

4. "Do you think we would have kicked each other's asses?"

Sometimes I think we wouldn't have been able to get along. I may have been submissive when I was younger, but I highly doubt I would have tolerated any more sh*t from you after I grew up.

Sometimes I think we'd physically fight and that I'd have to move out or something. This part may sound candid, but God only knows how drastic the consequences could have been.

I guess you know that some people are meant to be in your life, while others have to leave. And all of that works together to create the life you're meant to live.

5. "Can you please tell me everything you felt and thought about after the diagnosis?"

I ask because I want to know how bad it was. I want to know the pain you had to go through.

No, I am not trying to be morbid. I just want to feel sorry for you so we can be that much closer.

I ask because I feel like I need to be reminded that life's too short to be worrying about meaningless bullsh*t, when the things you went through were very real and literally life-ending.

I ask because I feel guilty. I think that back then I should have spent more time with you, but I didn't.

I went off to do my own sh*t, and I have regret. Now all I can do is write it as an article about it.