Carl Emil Mortenson IV
It's hard. I still think about him every day, I still have dreams about him, and I still miss him. Does it get easier? For the most part. Except on days where I'm having a rough day, or I'm not doing enough to keep my mind occupied.
My dad struggled with depression, I'm sure he's always had it. He had a rough life, with no one to really talk to him about it. His real dad had committed suicide. He left bills all around stapled to the walls and shot himself in the chest. When he was about six, his mom left his sister and him alone. Just picked up and left for a guy. By the time he was 12, he was already partying (since his older sister would have parties, it was just a normal thing to him). He already tried weed, and by the time he was 13 he had tried cocaine for the first time.
My dad really struggled throughout his life with addiction, whether it was drugs or alcohol, anything to get his mind off the “bullshit” he was surrounded by, he would do. While his mom was out also partying leaving the kids with a babysitter, he was raped by her. That kind of fucked him up too. The drugs just got more intense, and alcohol became more of an everyday drink.
I was about six when we found out his stepdad died. I remember us driving home from being out and as soon as we pulled into our driveway his sister had called saying that my grandpa Jerry had committed suicide. No note, just shot himself in the head. No one knows why he did what he did. And I think that hurt him even more. We saw him not too long before he did that. Maybe a week before we got the news. That was the first time I ever saw my dad cry. A couple months later, we find out that one of his best friends “TommE” died from a motorcycle accident. This was someone that was at my house all the time, someone that had gone surfing with my dad when there were waves, someone that all of my dad and his friends would go ride motorcycles with. I'm almost positive my dad felt like this was his fault, because of where he was headed.
Things got pretty rough after that. My parents went crazy after that; my sister and I were spending more time at my grandma's. I remember them losing everything, cars, motorcycles, electricity, even their kids. Drugs weren't really hidden anymore, and it came to the point my eight-year-old self could tell when they were “different.” As time went by my dad and I didn't have a relationship. I remember being so angry at him. So angry at what he was doing, so angry that he would leave me. I just wanted to have a “normal” family.
A couple years later, I got a letter from my dad saying that he was in recovery and was getting help. He told me he wanted to be a pastor, that he was ready to change and that he wanted to rekindle our relationship. I hadn't talked to him for a couple months when I received this. And I just laughed, I thought it was funny that someone could change so fast, that my dad the guy with tattoos, always dressing crazy, and was crazy was going to be a pastor. I thought “who would let this guy be in a church leading people.” I finally saw him and thought he was actually better. And he was for a while; he would go lead meetings and even became a youth pastor.
But he was very good at hiding the truth. He was still fighting demons in his head. I remember going to church with my sister and mom, and my mom telling me she doesn't have a good feeling and that we could hangout at church and she would be back. When she got to the house she found my dad with rope marks around his neck. This wasn't the first time he's tried something like that. At this time we got really close, but I still never would have thought he would have done something like that. I never talked to him about it.
The end of 2011 rolls around, and my dad had went to the hospital with chest pains. He would have these a lot but would NEVER go to the doctor. Well, my mom made him, and they eventually found out he had a tumor next to his spine. To remove it, there was a chance he could be paralyzed and that is something he couldn't do again (when he was 19 he got into a bad wreck that led him to being paralyzed where he had to learn how to walk, eat, and even talk again). He was in the hospital for about a month, and me and my sister were staying with my grandma. My dad finally came home but didn't want my sister or me to see him like that, so we would get off the bus and then my grandma would come pick us up. I kind of took him for granted to be honest. I expected him to be there, I would go run upstairs get clothes say "bye" real quick and then be gone.
March 1, 2012: my birthday. My dad called me to tell me happy birthday. He told me we would go to the tattoo convention that weekend, and he would see me then. March 3, 2012, my mom came to my grandma's, crying and telling me she and my dad got into a fight. That was nothing new so I didn't know why she was telling me I couldn't talk to him again. March 5, 2012, I went to school like a normal day. It was my first day back at my old high school. Still didn't hear from my dad. I was going to go walk to my house after school since it was so close, but something told me not to. So, I just went to my grandma's. My mom was sitting on the swing when I got there. She told me she needed to talk to me and she was crying. So I told her to tell me and she said "Dakota... Daddy's gone." I'm thinking he's at my Nana's (his mom). I say "Is he at Nana's? Have you called her?" She said "No, Dakota, he's not here anymore... he's gone..." and that's when it sank in that my dad had died. I asked "WHAT HAPPENED?!" She told me he hung himself in our upstairs bathroom. I immediately dropped to the ground balling my eyes out.
I will never forget this day and how I felt. I never would have expected to have just turned 16 and not have a dad. The worst part is no one expected that he would actually do it... Remember, behind a smile can be a broken soul.