Disclaimer: While working through the emotions of living life as a 28-year old without a father, as friends get married and have eye-watering [sobbing] precious father daughter dances and walks down the aisle… sigh… My counselor asked if I’ve ever written a letter to my father. Interesting, I thought, super into personal development, how had I not thought of doing this before? It took awhile, but I finally penned it out, all the feelings – good, bad, happy, sad and even angry. I never thought I would be angry with him before, until I started writing.
It’s been a couple months since I wrote it, and though slightly overwhelming in the moment, I feel much better now, freer. The key moment was when I was home last month, I brought my notebook to his grave, and read it to him. I always felt his presence stronger there, because that is the only place I have memories of him. I sat on a blanket, as if we were having a picnic, and read him this.
I really connected to Amber’s character, in this scene (from Parenthood Season 2, “Do not sleep with your autistic nephew’s therapist), when she finally gets to snap at her father and let it all out. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iu3Nc9EtOa0
Sometimes I wish I could. This is my version of that.
I hate that this is the place where I always have to find you.
It’s me, Sarah, your daughter.
It’s been nearly 25 years since you passed away, basically my lifetime. Had this been another story and you chose to leave, I’d say you are a complete stranger to me. I’d tell you of all the things you missed and how you left mom alone to raise two kids and work – in that case I’d want you to feel bad about your decision to abandon us.
However, that is not the case. I know you did not choose to leave, not from my own experience, but through others telling me. That’s also how I know you loved me, not through experience, but from mom reminding me.
Did you not know that as a 3 year old I wouldn’t remember you? That the only way I’d know you loved me or fought for me was through word of mouth? Out of the hundreds or thousands of times you may have said it, I cannot remember even one. I have friends who have memories of you, but I got nothing! My friends not only had their dads, but also remembered you! Why was I jipped?!
I’m trying to be angry with you, however, I just can’t.
Perhaps I love you because I never got to know you, but always desired to have you there – or maybe (hopefully) I would have still loved you just as much (or much, much more) had you lived.
Growing up in a family with a mom and a dad. Mom’s friends would have included her more, and my friends wouldn’t need to apologize when discussing their dads. I wouldn’t have felt so uncomfortable around other dads because I’d be used to having you around. I’d probably worry for your safety as a police officer, but I’d never worry or even think twice (let alone hundreds of times) about who would walk me down the aisle, or dance to Butterfly Kisses during the father-daughter dance (or perhaps we’d even have our own song).
There’s no telling whether it’d affect my relationship with guys, though I know I wouldn’t have had to look in all the wrong places for someone to lead me and love me like you should have.
Would I still have a heart for Kentucky, and a desire to serve? Would I still be me and be me where I am?
How much of me is shaped by experience and what happened, and how much is shaped by who I truly am?
There are so many questions and never any answers, but the only question I really desire to know the answer to is ‘Why didn’t you write me?’ Why didn’t you think of me, 25 years later wishing she had some kind of personal connection to her father – NOT through someone else. Your coworkers took time to write letters to Matt and me about you – Why couldn’t you take 10 freakin’ minutes to tell me you loved me and why you loved me, who you were, what you struggled with and what dreams you had for me, perhaps even a memory of two…
I want to rationalize for you – and say I know it’d be tough – who wants to think about leaving their family behind, let alone the fact that your daughter will not have any living memories of you – none of her own. But if I’m completely raw and feeling all the feels fully, I will disregard that because you should have cared. But you didn’t, at lease not enough.
And perhaps that’s why when I hit bumps in the road, I wonder why no one seems to care to invest in my life, as I realize that the one who should’ve, didn’t.
So maybe I am angry at you after all.
I realized a couple weeks ago that the one thing I’ve wanted all along, the one thing I’ve desired is you. The one thing I can’t ever have.
What do I do with that?
And though I doubt my capacity to love and empathize with those suffering would never be as deep as it is now, I would trade everything to have you back and do it all over.
I know, to the core, I’d still be who I am – I’d still walk in faith, because you and mom did – and I’d feel a little less lonely all the time, and a little more loved; a little less broken, and a little more whole; a little less jipped, and a little more blessed.
However, this is no the case. So I will cry another tear whenever I need to, and otherwise hold my head up high. I will use my brokenness to deeply love others. And I will desperately yearn for the day when my Heavenly Father will take me home, wipe the thousands of tears from my eyes, and will set me at a table surrounded by everyone I desperately need to still be here with me. And whether or not you will still be my father in Heaven, I hope to be held in your arms and catch up on everything I missed out on while on this dreadful earth.
I wish I could have known you more.
This is a wish that I will always wish.
I wish I had gotten the opportunity to love you for you – not for who everyone else has told me you are.
These are my feelings and they demand to be felt.