This one is for all my Strong Mamas who struggle with fatherlessness. I wrote this a little while ago as I was processing my relationship with my dad and the incredible absence that defines his role in my life. You are reading a piece of my heart: raw, hurt and searching for answers. Please don’t judge my dad-I know he did the best he could with what he had… though I still don’t understand his choices and totally hold him accountable. It became easier to accept him as he was when I realized my Heavenly Father was yearning to be everything to me my earthly father either would not or could not be. God has been a great Father to me. And if you are craving the love of your father I pray you will come to know that God is more than capable of filling that void.
I often wonder how I will feel
When you die
Will I weep?
Will I laugh?
Will I miss you?
Or will I just step away and take a
out the window
and think of what could have been…
What could have been if you had chosen me,
Wanted to sustain your presence,
Oh, there were glimmers of your love.
Speckled through a shady haze of glistening pain
obscured and fractured
as you wandered in and out of my life
trying to decide how you would fill the form of
It was painful to watch.
Painful to wonder if you would ever truly show up to this call on your life.
Painful to realize that you just didn’t have what it took.
Painful to say that when I thought of you
Your poor attendance was evidence of your insecurity with the role
and proof of your fear.
I don’t think you ever really figured it out,
what fatherhood means.
And now that I am a mother
I hurt for you in ways I had not before.
You missed so much.
the incredible opportunity of being intimately known and loved in ways that only a child can bring about knowing in a father.
Of failing your child and reeling from the shock that comes from looking at her and seeing only adoration and forgiveness staring back at you.
(From eyes that have the same gold flecks and amber canyons as yours).
the inexplicable feeling of being lost in the trenches of doubt and fear of failure and showing up to the great parenting fray anyway and being rewarded with smiles and hugs and the purest love in human form, the love of your child.
That kind of love changes a person.
That kind of trust fortifies those parts of you that cling to life and make it worthwhile.
That kind of forgiveness calls a person to a higher standard of selflessness
(though I wonder if your heart can pronounce selflessness? Does it know it’s meaning?)
boys, braces and bras
pimples and proms,
elementary, middle and high school
marriage, pregnancies and babies
the strength that comes from knowing you have what it takes to protect the heart of a daughter in this cruel world.
the joy of being there in celebrations,
and the greater satisfaction of comforting in devastation
and being there to see strength rise from pain in your child and knowing the seeds of wisdom you sowed took root.
You missed the privilege of seeing me blossom into a woman.
the opportunity to grow as a man in ways only fatherhood can change you.
(Who could you have been in this world if you had embraced this challenge instead of shrank from it?)
But most of all you missed
the deep satisfaction of seeing your legacy,
of leaving your mark on the world
in the indelible
Of having your person be known and your life be spoken of forever in stories and laughter and tears and trials.
Our immortality is also written in the memories of those we love and passed on to those they love.
Your legacy is bereft of that.
Yours is an anemic legacy, one that is embodied in the question of a curious younger grandchild (who bears your mark with the same gold flecks and amber canyons in his eyes),
“Why haven’t we met our grandfather?”
and in the answer of the older grandchild who definitively states,
“He doesn’t want us.”
And I pity you now.
Instead of embracing the wild challenge of patriarchy
you chose the darker, slicker road of self and detachment,
the road that seems fulfilling and free but like today’s fast food gives the promise of fullness but has no substance.
Though I sometimes contemplate your own childhood…
Did you even have a chance as broken as you were?
I have been angry at your parents (my grandparents whom I never knew) and have felt robbed…
robbed of the father you were meant to be.
How ironic that I have felt so protective of the Young You…
Oh, make no mistake
I hold you accountable.
But my heart bursts with compassion…
You didn’t know what you were doing.
You didn’t know your absence would leave me unprotected from the sexual predator…
or vulnerable to violence, doubt and despair because as a little girl I never thought I was worth protecting because the one assigned to the role abandoned his post.
And so, I often wonder what I will do
when you die
Will I go to your funeral?
Will I grieve?
Or will I just walk away from the very idea
that you ever even spoke my name?
when you die
I will feel many things…
I will know that I have been saying goodbye to you since I was five
and I have been grieving the loss of you for years.
I will say goodbye to what could have been.
And I will pray with all my heart you found Peace, Love and the One True God.
But miss you? Missing someone requires a certain kind of rich history that we just don’t have. One that you forfeited long ago in the foreign Land of Absence.
What is there to miss?