Do You Ever Remember?
I look back at the years, when my first memories of life are of happiness and unconditional love. I remember being a Daddies little girl. If you said it, I believed it to be true. If you did it, I wanted to do it too. If you liked it, I loved it. If you gave it to me, it quickly became my favourite thing regardless of what it was.
In my little mind, your words were that of a god – you knew best. Your words were worth their weight in gold, and it felt like you would move heaven and earth to protect me. I was convinced you were my real life superhero, who also made my teddy bears talk to me at night when you tucked me in and read me stories.
Your actions spoke louder than words. You showed me how to be compassionate, loving and strong so that I would know how to exhibit the same.
You were strong when you needed to be, lecturing and disciplining me when required. Your words were carefully chosen to convey respect and certainty. You demonstrated respect in your daily interactions, no matter how tough.
I have no doubt that it is in large part because of the warm and loving father you were to me as a child, that I am the virtuous women I am today. For all the wisdom you imparted through your actions and words, I will always be grateful to you.
And then one day, it stopped. In a flash, everything I had ever known was taken away from me. Life was forever changed. I do not blame you in any way for the events of that day, in fact I believe your actions saved half my family. I have no ability to comprehend what you went you through that day and the days following, but I admire your courage and strength to continue on. I know you are a fighter, because I got that trait from you.
But as a result of that day, you chose to send less time with me, your priorities no longer included me. You had moved on to a new family, with younger children who took my spot as the youngest and demanded your attention. While you spent your evenings with them, I stayed at home alone. Our once happy family home that bustled with energy, became a quiet place where I spent my evenings alone, cooking my own meals, learning to do my own laundry and crying myself to sleep at night.
No longer were you a staple at my sporting events cheering me on from the sidelines and giving me pointers at the end of the game. Instead I drove myself and listed to words of encouragement from my friend’s and teammates parents.
No longer did you help me on my homework or quiz me for my next exam. Instead, you hired a tutor and left me to my own devises.
You made promises, but almost never kept them. You promised to meet me for lunch once a week. When that didn’t happen, you promised to eat dinner with me once a week. When that didn’t happen, I stopped trying.
One day, when you didn’t like my attitude, you called me a little bitch. And then you did again, and again through the course of the next few years. I never heard you say this about anyone before, and now not only were you saying it, but you were directing it at me. I remember sitting on the floor crying as I overheard you speaking this way about me, I remember trying to figure out how to run away. I remember the one and only time in my life I ever thought about killing myself because I couldn’t see hope through all of it. I remember, how your words that used to preach love and respect had now turned against me.
When our arguing at home got too bad, I slept at friends’ houses or you put me on a plane to visit extended family. I realize I was a feisty teenager, but I don’t believe I was exceptionally bad – I got straight A’s, I played extracurricular sports, I worked a part-time job, I coached little kids soccer. I really could have been a lot worse. But really, more then anything I was just a kid, trying to survive the unimaginable without feeling much love or compassion from her remaining family.
My childhood was over, and I was taking a crash course in how to be an adult at 14.
I quickly learned to rely on myself. I learned that people I love can vanish in a second. I learned that no-one is perfect. I learned that words can hurt more then I ever imagined. I learned that people I trusted would not always be there for me. These lessons have left a drastic impact on my entire life.
I began to see that you were not perfect, rather you were human. On some level, I knew you were hurting just as I was, but you chose to turn away from me when I needed you most.
Some days I think I’ve forgiven you for leaving me feeling abandoned when I need you most, other days the hurt runs so deep that I do not even know where to start.
Most days, more than anything else, I just wish I the father that stands before me is the one I once knew. The one that still lives today in my memory.
I wonder, Dad, do you ever think about the good old days when I was your little girl? Do you ever wonder what could have been? Do you ever remember what we once had?
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