To My Absent Father
Apr 28, 2016
Congratulations, you were the first man to ever break my heart.
I expected my first heartbreak to come from a dumb high school boy, not my own father. I looked up to you once upon a time. A time when I could expect you home for dinner each night, see you in the living room watching sports and could eat cookie dough with you. You were such a great father when I was little. What happened? I know it's nothing I had done, but why did you leave like you did? I guess I understand that you cannot force a relationship to work, when your heart is in another place, simply for the sake of keeping a family together. but while leaving your wife may be somewhat understandable, leaving your children is not. I never lashed out to you about how you left us, but that doesn't make it acceptable.
"If you're man enough to create somebody, then you should be man enough to stick around and see how they turn out." -Kellin Quinn
Needless to say, I didn't get the cliche or idealistic childhood I always imagined for myself. I remember back when I was only eight years old, five years before life threw me for the biggest loop of my life, Mom was fixing the sink in the bathroom, and I asked her why she was doing it when you built houses for a living. Apparently she figured out she would have to learn how to live without you long before I did. Five years later, I remember pulling out of the driveway, the car all packed up with everything but you, ready to make the 1000 mile journey to Kansas. I was curled up underneath my yellow blanket bawling my eyes out wondering how you were going to live without us there everyday; little did I know you would be quite alright. Before I knew it, the span between the times I saw you would turn from weeks to months to near years. I always imagined you sending me off to my first high school dance or bringing home my first boyfriend to you or you helping me move into college, but none of the above happened.
I feel bad for how hard it was on my siblings too. My sister loved you with all of her giant heart, and my brother idolized you as the only man in his life. I feel especially bad for my brother who will never really know what it is like to grow up with a sturdy father figure. Now I don't mean to sound selfish, but I think I may have had it the worst. In response to your actions, as the oldest child, I had to grow up faster. Someone had to step up to fill the hole you left, and I was next in line. I was also the one who was able to see and remember both sides of you. Thankfully, I was able to grow up with a great father, but that only made the burden and shock a million times stronger when a total 180 was pulled on us.
Now I get an envelope in the mail come Christmas time containing a gift card, as if that makes up for your absence. I try to remember to wish you a happy Father's Day despite the last time you acted like a father was a long time ago. You even forgot my brother's birthday last year; while we may have moved on with life without you, a happy birthday wish to your own child is still important. We notice. Do you even really miss us, or do you just say that? Because people who really miss someone make efforts to see them, don't they? The last time I saw you was just about a year ago at my high school graduation, which to be honest, I was actually really surprised you came to. Also, don't say it's too difficult to see us since we're 1000 miles away; what about the time we were in New Orleans for four days, 10 minutes away from you?
But the worst of it all is when you randomly text me "I love you". If that's not confusing then I don't know what is. I don't even know what to say back anymore. Are those feelings still there for me? I'd like to say I love you to the man who raised me up until seven years ago, but I don't think he exists anymore. What about when the time comes for me to get married? Am I going to follow tradition and allow you, and man who has been absent during some of the most impactful years of my life, to walk me down the aisle?
Despite all I've said above, your absence didn't have many negative effects on me or my family. Actually, we turned out stronger both physically and emotionally because of it; who do you think helped Mom move all the furniture into our new home anyhow? I also learned how to be more independent and that a family doesn't need a man to complete it. Yet while I have learned that a child doesn't need a father figure to turn out just fine, I will do my absolute best to marry and start a family with a man who will never let his children down when push comes to shove. A man who will be the father I wish I had.
I'm not fishing for an apology. That's useless. Actions speak louder than words, and I think I got the message.
But if anything, thank my mother, as she gave everything she had to make sure none of us kids were ever without. While I've seen the breakdowns and moments of doubt, I've never met a woman stronger than her, and there is no one I would be prouder to call my mother than her. She has turned into a conjoined parent, one who performs the tasks of both the mother and father, in order to raise us, especially for my brother's sake (props to him by the way for living with three girls, he'll be a good husband one day). They say being a mother is the hardest job in the world, but what about one person being both a mother and a father?
Finally, I want to thank you. Thank you for allowing me to build a relationship with my mom that is twice as strong as it was seven years ago, for showing me that a woman can do everything a man can do but in heels and for thickening my skin for whatever life will throw my way.
People always say they're sorry for me no longer having that father/daughter relationship in my life, but I am now numb to your absence. I no longer see a family of a mother, brother and sister abnormal. I'm probably indifferent about our relationship because I've never felt like I'm lacking anything in life. Despite your absence, my family fulfills me with so much happiness that I would never wish it any other way.
I will always be a little bitter, and my respect may be gone. But I don't hate you, yet I can't necessarily say I love you either. They always say forgive but never forget, which is what I'm trying my best to do.