A dark hallway with an open door

The stores are filled with cards, but I won’t be making a purchase. Not because I don’t want to, but because I would have no idea where to send a note. Fourteen long years have passed, and you’re still out there. This is a living death, knowing you’re there and I’m here. In our world with a thousand ways to find someone, you choose not to find me. 

In our world with a thousand ways to find someone, you choose not to find me. 

The last time we locked eyes was in a courtroom. I was 21 years old, and you were old enough to act better. Thanks to search engines and social media, I know you’ve remarried. That you’ve replaced me with her kids. That you’ve become a grandpa. I’m happy for you, really. It takes the pressure off of me, I guess. 

For a long time, I had unanswerable questions. How do I reconcile these lost years? What do I do with the doubt you lodged in my psyche—that no matter how good I am, I may never be enough? How do I overcome the feelings of being replaced or the public humiliation of our family’s separation? How can I make sense of you enjoying life with no contrition? How do I forgive, move forward and remember? 

This debt is too enormous. Someone has to pay. 

It’s only in my faith that I’ve found an apologetic capable of holding the enormity of your choices. This is the only place where I can transfer your debts and overdrafts onto a ledger of accounts where they’ll be paid in full. This is the only exchange that liberates my broken heart to say, “You owed me so much better, but you do not owe me anymore.” 

“You owed me so much better, but you do not owe me anymore.” 

While I have to accept your choices, I am choosing to step out of victimhood and be identified by a different father, a good father, who knows what it means to love without reason. And so, I’ve taken this good father at his word and crossed my watershed of abandonment. While I’ll never forget your hurts, I can finally throw my head back and my arms out and shout, “I have never been anything but loved!” 

I’m getting older yet my heart still hopes you’ll crawl out of self-righteousness toward sincere apology. Yet, even if you don’t, the road to my watershed of soul-satisfying acceptance, where I leapt from the pain of your choices to the eternal payment of His choices, had a few good men walking with me—grandpa Dan to David and Ben who helped me secure my first job. From my biological brothers to my bonus brothers in faith. No one will be able to fill the role you were called to fill, and yet mercifully, others chose to walk with me anyway. 

No one will be able to fill the role you were called to fill, and yet mercifully, others chose to walk with me anyway. 

So, this Father’s Day, I will once more hold your abandonment in tension with His acceptance. Your indifference with His commitment. Out of the love I have received, I will extend hope to you—hope that one day your soul will come to a similar spiritual watershed where you, too, can know you’ve never been so loved.

Did you have a relationship with your father growing up? How did this affect you growing up and now as adult?

Image via Michaela Winstone, Darling Issue No. 22

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