Imagine living across the continent from your father who is in his 80s and in failing health.
Imagine a long, slow decline with many close calls during which you visit a few times and call periodically in between.
Imagine receiving the call that he has left this world.
Imagine you are the only person in the family your stepmother calls. This is partly because your remaining family has dwindled to only about half a dozen people and partly because you are the only person who really had a relationship with the man you call Dad.
Imagine taking unending flack from your mother for your efforts at reconciliation.
Imagine your relationship, such as it was, being steeped in so many lies told for so many years you don't even know some basic things about your father.
Imagine people hearing your family name and asking if you're related to this man with the same name, your father, who is either respected for the career he had or reviled for the crimes he committed.
Imagine the fear over which way that conversation will go. Imagine instructing your own children to ask why someone wants to know if they are ever asked if they are related to their grandfather.
Imagine flying across the country to attend your father's memorial surrounded by whatever people out there knew him, all strangers to you. Imagine knowing that some of the things he is remembered for are complete fabrications that these strangers believe.
Imagine being told he donated his body to science and when they are done with him you will receive his ashes in the mail.
I'd imagine those ashes symbolize not so much the man who was your father as the loss of what could have been and what remains when a lifetime of lies are stripped away.
And as much as I try, I don't know that I can properly imagine what this experience is like for my husband.