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A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.
It was summer of 1988 when I finally met my biological father. We were downtown at the bus stop on the way to visit the orthodontist when my mother spotted him across the street. I was delighted by the opportunity to finally meet the man who took part in making me.
Dad seemed just as excited to meet me as I was to finally meet him. He gave me a big hug and said that he really wanted to get to know me. So we made arrangments for him to visit regularly throughout the summer.
Everything was great. And I was happy.
However, things don't always appear as they seem. And little girls' dreams get turned to dust.
Mother and I were settling into our new apartment fairly well that summer. Because of the brutal beating that nearly ended her life just a short while earlier, we were evicted from our home and forced to move. I guess twice in that house was more than our landlord could handle. So, we had to pack up and go.
After enduring rape and watching my mother get beaten nearly to death that year, a fresh start seemed like a great idea. But there was no new beginning for me. Only more trauma and more rejection from my earthly father. Though I was enjoying our time together, I noticed a change. And though you might say that at just eight-years-old, I was too young to understand, I knew exactly what was going on.
Dad started coming over later and later each night. Usually right around my bedtime, or after I had already gone to bed. And though I could hear the sounds coming from my mother's bedroom just six short feet away, I kept quiet. But not for long. I couldn't take it! Dad never stayed the night. He was never there to greet his smiling, sleepy-eyed little girl when she awoke. He was gone each morning.
I was crushed.
Thoughts swirled around in my head as I tried to make sense of why my dad didn't want to see me. Why couldn't we just be a family? Was I really that bad of a little girl that my daddy left me? AGAIN. Maybe it's because he knew I was dirty, and he hated me for it? Maybe if I were a boy and better at playing catch, he would want me? Thoughts like these plagued my mind.
I knew that I was being used, and it was torturing me. I was becoming angry and hateful of him. How could he do this to me? How could my mother allow this? Didn't they care that they were hurting me?
I couldn't take it anymore. So, I finally got up the courage to talk to my mother about how bad all of this was making me feel. I explained to her that it was wrong that he should be coming over just to see her, have sex, and leave. I told her that if we couldn't be a family, that it wasn't right for my father to continue coming over. Reluctantly, mother agreed to allow me to stay up that night to confront my father.
Even though I was utterly crushed by my earthly father's rejection, I had such great love and respect for him. I cared more about his feelings than he cared about mine. I was terrified to say what I wanted and needed to say. Even though I was deeply hurt, I did not want to hurt my dad.
But with tears like little rivers flowing down my chubby cheeks, I told him that what he was doing was wrong. I poured out my aching soul to him and told him that if we couldn't be a family not to bother coming around anymore. It hurt me to hurt my dad that way. I loved him. I needed him to be there and protect me. I needed him to protect my mother. But he just couldn't. And I didn't understand why. And I wouldn't find out the answer to that burning question until years after his funeral.
I never saw him again after that night. Four years had passed without hearing from my biological father, minus a message he left on our answering machine asking if he could take me fishing shortly before we discovered his passing. The pain of his rejection and abandonment consumed me and I hated him for it. I hated him and loathed him for lying to me and telling me that he loved me when he didn't, and for telling me that my sister was dead when in fact I met her the very same summer that I met him. I despised him for using me to get into my mother's bed. I wished that he was dead.
It was February 12, 1992. A friend from school was going to spend the night that night. I thank God above that she was there because a friend was what I desperately needed that night. We arrived home to find my mother waiting for me with a tear-soaked face. My teacher from the fourth and fifth grades, who became a treasured friend was also there.
A neighbor has passed away a few days prior due to a massive heart attack. While searching for our neighbor's obituary in the paper, my mother found my father's instead.
When those words fell from my mother's lips, it felt like I had fallen into a bottomless pit.
I KILLED HIM! I KILLED HIM! I KILLED MY DAD!!!
I ran outside, fell to my knees in the parking lot, and let out wave upon wave of banshee-like screams. At only 12 years-old, I had never experienced such intense guilt and shame. Four long years, I had hated my father so much that I wished him dead. And now he was. And no amount of crying, begging, or pleading would bring him back.
Valentine's day is a day that I will hate, loathe, and despise forever. It was on Valentine's day in the pouring rain where I held my father's icy-cold hand and wept over his lifeless body. It was there where I finally met my grandmother, my aunts, uncles, and cousins.
And it was there, where I learned that my father committed suicide. As the heinous details poured out like sour milk from my uncle's mouth, I was consumed with guilt. Surely, dad somehow knew I wished him dead, so he killed himself, I reasoned. It wasn't until a year later that I learned that not only did my dad struggle with alcohol and drug addiction his entire life, dad also lived with Bipolar disorder, and AIDS is what drove him to end his life.
Though this knowledge has given me clarity and perspective that I otherwise would not have had, the pain of not having him in my life remained.
I choose to be grateful that I at least had the opportunity to meet him. And I am grateful for the time that I did have with him. And because of the knowledge that I know possess about my earthly father, I have been able to let go of the pain and resentment that I carried and forgive him fully. I understand that he suffered from a severe mental illness that can make living a "normal life" seem impossible at times. I understand that he did not have a good and godly role model to teach him how to be a man and a father. Above all, I am grateful for the lessons that my heavenly Father has taught me in all of this. I have learned that even though life without an earthly father can be pretty rough, I have eternal life to look forward to with my heavenly Father.
February 14, 2018
It's been twenty-six years since the day that I saw your lifeless body in that casket. Twenty-six long years have passed since I placed that solitary red rose in your cold dead hands.
Life was never easy without you in it Dad. But I still thank God each day for the time I that we had together. I thank God that I met you, hugged you, loved you, and even played catch with you. I will forever cherish those moments when I was your precious little girl.
I often look back on my life and wonder if it would have been different if you were there. What would have happened -- what wouldn't have happened -- if you were there? How different would I be if you would have been in my life Dad?
Sometimes, I like to close my eyes and imagine that we really were a family -- that you really loved mom and me -- that you were there, and we were happy and safe. No one would have hurt us. Because you were there.
But those are just the dreams of a little girl. And dreams get turned to dust. Reality is, you were not there. I am not your only child. You were not there for my sister either.
I need to tell you that for the longest time I've been so angry with you. I've hated you, loathed you, and despised you, Dad. I needed you to take care of me and mom. I needed you to protect us.
I'm a grown woman now Dad, with three grown sons, and a beautiful granddaughter. You'd be so proud of your grandson's Dad! Your grandson is looking more like you every day! My sister has three sons too, and a daughter, and grandsons!
Dad, if only you could see me -- see us -- your daughters -- I hope that you'd be proud!
Dad, I want you to know that I'm not angry at you anymore. I don't hate you. I understand, Dad. I don't blame you. It's not your fault that your own father was an abusive drunk. It's not your fault that he did not teach you how to be a man, a husband, or a father. It's not your fault that you had Bipolar disorder. I do too. So does your grandson. And he and I both know the unbearable pain and darkness that drove you to end your own life. We've been there too, Dad, so many times!
I understand Dad. And I forgive you. I forgive you for not being there for me and mom. I forgive you for using me to get back into my mother's bed. Even though it hurt me, Dad, I'm choosing to let it go, so I can heal and move on with my life.
I love you so much, Dad. And I miss you fiercely. My only prayer Dad is that you truly made peace with God and accepted His gift of Salvation before drawing your last breath so that I will have the blessed assurance that we will see each other again someday.
Until we meet again Daddy,
Your little girl,