When I was four, and you and my mom got divorced, you left. Do you even understand what that did? That separated us. Not just physically, but emotionally. I forgot what you even looked like. I forgot your personality. I forgot who you were supposed to be to me. I had no other example of what a father was supposed to do for me. All I knew is that you were not around. I got used to it until I went to school and everyone else's moms and dads came to pick them up together, until my mom got remarried to someone that I was under the impression was supposed to take your place. He was around and you weren't. He came to my performances and you didn't. He took me to and from school and you didn't. He cared about me and, in my mind, you didn't.
When I was ten, my mom took me to a McDonalds that I had never been to before. You showed up and everything came rushing back. I was naive so I trusted you completely. I know you tried, but when Garrett and I came over all you did was sit and watch tv. You got upset if you ever had to take me to a rehearsal or Garrett to a practice. You smoked even though you knew Garrett was allergic. We were clearly a burden. That hurt.
When I was thirteen, you stopped showing up, again. You stopped supporting me. You stopped talking to me. I BLAMED MYSELF. I thought I was going to get a chance to have a life much like everyone else's around me. But you left, again. I told myself that I should've listened better. I shouldn't have misbehaved. I should have stayed out of your way and not annoyed you. If I had done all that maybe you wouldn't have left me. High school was one of the hardest times of my life and you weren't there. High school was one of the greatest times of my life and you missed it. I made it onto to the cheerleading team, I was second chair flute in freshman band, I started going to church, I played a supporting role in a play my freshman year, I dislocated my knee, I accepted Christ into my heart, I joined choir, I got top twenty-four in a national forensics tournament twice, I got top thirty in an even bigger national tournament, I was chosen to be a drum major in marching band, I took five ensembles and two solos to state in three years and got ones each time, I auditioned and made it into the chamber choir, I started dating my now husband, I played a lead role in the musical Anything Goes, I got my first job, I lost my first job, I received an academic award, I got a five on my AP Music Theory test, I was chosen to speak at my school's baccalaureate assembly, I graduated, I got into the only college I applied for. You missed all of it.
In June 2014, your new wife’s mom messaged me on facebook and asked me to call your wife. My first reaction was to get bitter and angry at you. I had no idea what was going on but I was prepared to be upset at you. So I called Trisha. She told me you had a heart attack and I started crying. I went to the hospital to see you. My mom didn't want me to go because she understood how your actions have hurt me and changed me. But I went anyway, and you acted as if you had seen me just the other day. I don't know what I expected you to say. We went out to brunch on Father's Day and you still didn't say anything about the FOUR YEARS that you weren't around.
On July 20th, 2014 I called Trisha to see what time I was supposed to show up for pictures. She told me that you and her had split up. Because of your track record, I immediately readied my heart for you to leave me again. I broke down. I got angry at God. During those four years of your absence, I got used to it. I started to heal and then you came back. I thought everything was going to be okay but when she told me you left I just cried. I didn't understand why God would reopen the wound that you created and I was starting to get over.
You showed up to my senior recital. YOU SHOWED UP. In seventeen years, that was the first thing you came and supported me at. Thank you for being there. It meant a lot to me. But it's also the last thing you came and supported me at. You made so many promises about staying in touch and visiting me while I’m in college. But you stopped speaking to me again. I found out you and Trisha got a divorce. You beat her son. You gambled away all her money. And you disappeared.
I've been married for almost two years. You knew and you never said a word. My mom and my brother walked me down the aisle, a place they deserved to be. They, including my stepdad Bruce, picked up the pieces of my heart every time you left. They held me when I cried over all the parts of myself that you messed up. They walked with me to meet my best friend at the end of the aisle. You weren’t there. And it was the happiest day of my life.
In November 2017 you contacted me. You told me that you had gotten remarried and were living in Louisiana. You told me that you had been going to church and were a different person. You wanted to be a part of my life again. So much of me wanted to let you in. But you had so many chances already. I had to protect myself and my future family. I told you about all the ways you had hurt me. I'm sure you knew but I had never gotten the chance to voice it before. You needed to hear it from me. I pushed you away and I don't regret it.
On February 23rd, 2018 you passed away.
Your funeral was by far the most painful thing I’ve ever been through. Everyone spoke about how kind and loving you were. You really duped them, huh? Your stepson came up and spoke about how great of a father you were to him. What did he have that I didn't? Why did he get everything of you that I was supposed to get? Every word people said just dug a knife deeper into my heart. It’s not fair. Why did they get two years of you that I never got. Why did it take family number four for you to change. Why wasn’t I enough of a reason?
I'm just angry, furious, bitter. None of those words even come close to how I feel. It's happening all over again. You tried to walk back in and then you left and now it's final. You can't come back to fix it. You left the last mark. At least you've got that fourth family that still sees you as some great, loving man. I'm so angry at everything you gave them that you didn't give me.
You come in, you break things, and you leave. I’m now twenty-one. I’m in my last year at SBU and hoping to get a job in the foster care system. You won’t be there when I graduate college. Or when I start my career. You won’t be there for the birth of my first child. For their first smile, word, step. You’ll miss it. But Jacob won’t. Jacob will be there in all the spaces that you weren’t. Jacob will be the father that my kids deserve. That I deserved.
I hope I can learn to forgive you someday.