My father in law of 12 years, Alfred Soto Gonzales Jr., died today. The announcement came with a text from my ex at 6:04 this evening that said "He is all better." I knew that must mean he was gone but somehow I felt compelled to text back and ask the question anyway.
It is an interesting loss for me. I was not particularly close to the man who's life was punctuated by drug use and abuse of his family for the vast majority of the time I knew him. He was, in spite of those negative qualities, an amazingly talented man. He could play the harmonica insanely well. It was not an instrument I ever would have thought to appreciate so much before I heard him play. I'll never hear a harmonica again with out thinking of him... well him and Grandpa Bob Guier. To be fair he could also be incredibly sweet. He rarely called me by my name, most often he called me "baby."
Life changed for Al when he chose to follow Christ several years ago. His life changed drastically. His face had a softness I hadn't ever seen in him before. It wasn't a change that was permanent and easy. He struggled, and failed, but in the end he claimed faith in Christ.
The last conversation I had with him was just before Father's Day in June of this year. Prior to that I hadn't spoken with him since the night Drew and I split and on that night he was spewing hatred and venom at me. In our last conversation though, he told me he was sorry, and that he loved me. I told him I loved him too.
I made plans to go visit him last week but he didn't want visitors in the hospital, so I told the family to let him know that I'd come see him when he was home. I didn't get the chance.
This loss is not as hard for me personally as the loss of Karissa, not even close. It is breaking my heart though to know that, in the morning when their dad tells them, my kids hearts will break one more time. They are going to grow up to be the most resilient people on the planet for all the heartbreak they have endured in the last few years. I think my kids are my heroes.