To My Long-Lost Dad,
I’m not even sure I’m able to recall the exact moment you left Mom and I for good. I vividly remember a time where your back was turned, Mom was on the sidewalk, and I stood barefoot on the cold porch, watching you walk away before jumping into the backseat of a white car.
Maybe that was the pivotal moment you decided to call it quits on your family. Then again, maybe you were just catching a ride with a friend before work on that fog-filled morning. Or maybe you were simply leaving for a bite to eat. Who knows?
We both know I have no idea what happened. I was too young. But sadly that’s the only memory I have of you before you left me. Now that I’m grown, I consider it a blessing that I’m unable to remember more.
It’s funny that, in a twisted sort of a way, you spent the first four years of my life making memories with me (I even have pictures to prove it), but the only thing I remember is you walking away.
I think we can both agree, karma hasn’t treated you so kindly.
You told my mom through countless phone conversations I would understand your choice to leave once I was older. But Dad, I’m older now, and I will never and could never understand. Since you left, I can count the amount of times I’ve seen you face-to-face on one hand. But I couldn’t even begin to count the multitude of disappointments you’ve relayed through voicemail.
I’ve never known what it’s like to truly have a father, and it’s because of you. You screwed this one up big time, Dad. Then again, I don’t think I need to remind you of that. I suppose these choices of yours are the kind that won’t unburden you until the grave… and I guess I could call that punishment enough.
I want you to know that I don’t need your pity, but you need to realize that your choice to leave made me question my own self-worth. You did that. It doesn’t hurt anymore, but for a long time, it caused me pain. Now, I’m far too old to be burdened by your 21+ years of ongoing mistakes. In fact, your absence has strengthened who I am as a person today.
So, not that you deserve any accolades, but thanks for leaving.
Yes, really. Thank you.
Thank you for showing me that, in your eyes, I was not worth the fight.
Thank you for showing me your true colors at a young age, so I didn’t have to live with the terrible heartache of missing you as I grew older.
Thank you for not only leaving, but moving across country when you decided to do so. Because you did that, we didn’t have the drawn-out back and forth uncertainty of “is this the final goodbye?” It was clean cut, over and done. Like a bandage swiftly ripped off. So Dad, thanks for that.
The worst of my childhood had come, thanks to you, but Mom stayed to mend what you alone had damaged. Because of you, I got to see what a kick-ass, strong and independent mother really looked like as she picked us both up time and time again. Then again, I suppose that’s what true parents do when there is nowhere else to go but up. So, once more, thanks, Dad.
I googled your name once or twice many years ago. I’d love to say it was for my own amusement, shits and giggles, but in all of my vulnerability, I really just wanted to know more about my father. You, the one I was supposed to know but never did by no choice of my own. And wouldn’t you know that it didn’t take but a minute to find your lengthy arrest records? How disappointing, but at the same time, almost relieving. I’m so glad that I didn’t have to have a front seat to that mess.
I’m glad I didn’t have to be the daughter who had to clean up your messes that your records reveal you made. The way I figure it, you probably wouldn’t have been present in my life even, if you didn’t leave. You have been too caught up in your battles to ever be a present, engaged father to me. So, thank you for sparing the heartache of watching you make those messes and cause that damage.
I’ve adjusted to the hole that’s in the shape of my “supposed-to-be” dad. (In case you didn’t know, that’s you.) But I’ve never had to grieve or miss your absence. Because I don’t even know you…. and you don’t even know me. It was a cowardly move to leave, but thank you for allowing the real men in my life to step forward and claim a fraction of your responsibility. Because you left, I know what a kind father is supposed to look like, even if the DNA doesn’t add up.
Thank you for the chance to be better, do better, and strive to be a successful woman whom you’ll never have the chance to claim a hand in raising. My words aren’t out of spite. They are formed from 25 years of brutal honesty. Because this is what happens when you wait a lifetime to make amends.
Dad, thanks for leaving. Really, thank you.
The Daughter You Don’t Know