And knowing what I know about who he was and what he did, I'm not supposed to love him, or miss him, or shed tears over him.
But sometimes life isn't neat and tidy and tied up with a big white ribbon.
Mike Maloney was a bad man, who did bad things to people that didn't deserve it. If he were alive, I suspect I wouldn't have much of a relationship with him. If he were alive, I suspect I would hate him.
But as my mom commented yesterday - death changes everything - or does it?
There are parts of me that hate Mike Maloney, for what he did, and didn't do, and who he was and who he wasn't. There are parts of me that would like nothing better than to slap him across the face and tell him what a fuckup he is. But the plain truth is - he is not. He is not anything, because now he's just... dead. Buried, in a cemetery in one of my favorite cities four hours away from here.
It's weird that he still has so much pull over my emotions. Yesterday was a harder April 6th than I've had since the first one. I'm not sure what it is, but I think it had something to do with a healthy reality check. I am twenty seven years old, two years older than my mom was when she married Mike Maloney. I spent some time last night, reading over the posts that I've written in the past few years, and overwhemingly, my favorites are the ones I have written about are the two most formative men in my life, Mike Maloney and my dad - Shawn Steil.
Mike Maloney died on a Thursday night, and I went back to tenth grade the next day - not missing a beat. It wasn't even that I needed a distraction. It was more basic - I was upset, but not that upset. The impact of his life and his death and the cause of his death didn't hit me that spring day or the next day or at his funeral, but instead have seeped in to my life over the past twelve years, as I've grown up and realized the ways in which he fell short - of his possibility and of his responsibility.
As a person, I've changed so much since Mike died. If he were alive, would he recognize me? If he were alive, would I want him to? I don't remember what he looked like, I remember him freeze-framed wearing a red flannel shirt and faded Levis. I remember him, mostly, as one dimensional - from photographs not memories.
As a family, the Maloney's have changed so much since Mike died. I close my eyes and picture how our family might have turned out if the Steil's weren't in it, and the picture is just... colorless. Shawn Steil brought something very real and very important to our family. He turned the lights on and made our family better. I didn't know it at the time, but he filled in the dots, and put us back together.
Writing about Mike Maloney and his life and his death is a therapy to me. It's a way for me to put my emotions on a shelf, and be done with them, for a while at least. I won't go so far as to say I'm glad that he's gone, because I'm not. I won't say I wish he was here, because I'm not that, either. The truth is a much deeper shade of gray.
In so many ways, death changes everything.