I’ve been struggling with writing these words, putting pen to paper and getting them out. As of March 16 I have to say my dad died. Not only do I have to say my dad died, but I have to clarify for people which dad. The reason why I have to clarify is because I come from somewhat of a broken home; so I have two dad’s. The one who gave me life and a stepdad who stepped in when my mom remarried. So when I say my dad died, I mean my real dad or my birth father, the one who gave me life.
For ten years, I lost contact with my dad, let’s call him by his name, Gerald, just for clarity. So I lost contact with Gerald in 1997, not because I didn’t want to talk to him anymore, but because my mom remarried and he felt as though he had been replaced by my new dad, Abraham. This couldn’t be further from the truth, because for 15 years, my dad, Gerald, was my everything. There was no doubt in my mind that he loved me because I was his baby girl, his middle child, who was so much like him. The last time that I laid eyes on my dad was July 1997, that is until March 2016 when I saw him for the first time lying in his coffin. I don’t have words to express how terrible that felt. It was like looking at a stranger because the picture of my father I have carried in my head was no where close to the man I saw lying cold in that box.
But back to the 90s, my dad drove from Detroit and picked up me along with my two sisters to spend a few weeks with him in 1997, and we had a great time. It was like old times, minus my mother, that is. But he took us to the zoo and showed us around his city with such pride, and then he drove us back to Alabama and that was it. We never saw him again, but he would call us and talk to us on the phone, but even that stopped when my mom remarried. He felt like he was no longer needed, like he had been replaced, but that didn’t stop his girls from needing their father. As time passed and contact became nonexistent me and my sister accepted the fact that we did indeed have a new father because our old father no longer cared. The pain and rejection dwindled, and he soon became just a memory. I used to have a man in my life that I called daddy, but now I just have a stepfather, and he is great, he loves us like his own children. That be came my new mantra, because it hurt too much to say “my daddy doesn’t love me or want me anymore.”
Fast forward 7 years, I’m now 21, in my very first relationship, and I begin to realize I’m so screwed up and I can’t make this relationship work because I have “daddy issues” the first man that was supposed to show me how a man should love a woman threw me away when I was 14, and I never dealt with it. Now I have this crippling fear that any man that says he loves me will leave me. I mean, my dad is supposed to love me unconditionally, and he left, so what’s gonna keep you, this random person that I picked out of the crowd and said I choose you to be my partner, a person who has no real commitment to me, from walking away. So…I picked up the phone and called my dad. It was the biggest heartbreak of my life, the man on the other end of the phone had no clue who he was talking to, he didn’t even know his own daughters voice. I yelled, cried, and begged for answers. Why did you leave me? Why didn’t you fight for me? Do you even love me? I can still, 13 years later, hear his voice answering me. “Oh, baby, I’m sorry I let you down, I didn’t think you wanted me anymore.” Those words broke me, completely shattered me, because just like me, my dad felt like I had thrown him away. Communication is so important, because silence is the loudest thing we can say. Nothing is worse than something.
After that night, I never lost touch with my dad. However, I was torn, because I had this new life and a family that I didn’t want to disrupt because I didn’t want to offend anyone. Hurt anyone’s feelings. So my dad became my secret. I listened to his woes, to his heartaches, his ups and downs, and shared it with no one. That is until I did. I confessed to my mom that I was in contact with Gerald. She wasn’t “happy” about it because they parted on bad terms, but she didn’t stop me from it either.
My dad, Gerald, had his demons that he struggled with, but underneath all of that he was still the same person. Funny, charming, charismatic, loyal, and deeply caring. So, I didn’t give up on him. I held tight to the belief that one day I would get to se him again. Unfortunately, that never happened. Well at least for him it didn’t. The day I have dreaded for so long actually came…my dad died. It’s still not real to me. It’s been a little over a week, and I can’t believe he’s really gone. Up until I saw him in the casket, did I actually believe it. I will never talk to my dad again. He’s really gone. My heart breaks everything I think about it. I loved my dad, and although we were separated, he was never far from my mind, and I strongly believe he carried not only me, but my two sisters, in his heart with him everyday. He was a broken man, and he was never able to pick up the pieces after he lost his family, but not he is resting. I love you daddy, and you will always be the first man who ever loved me.