This is undoubtedly one of the hardest pieces I’ve ever written. Here I am, pen in hand, scribing a letter to you. Longing to see your eyes fill with tears receiving the gifts our daughter so thoughtfully made for you. She’s grown so much.
I vividly remember the day she was born. Thursday, January 27, 2011 is the first and only time I recall viewing life through green-shaded glasses. As I laid, completely depleted in the hospital bed, pained from the emergency C-section that welcomed our baby girl into this world, I watched you. Dreary from anesthesia, labor and a complicated pregnancy, I mustered just enough energy to identify that the hurt I was feeling had nothing to do with delivery.
I was momentarily jealous of our daughter. Not of her beauty, her youth or the silver spoon we placed in her mouth. I envied the way you looked at her—with such devotion and honor. It was a love in your eyes I had never witnessed before.
The green instantly subsided and over the years, I watched with admiration and pride as this tiny little person gripped your fingers and effortlessly brought you to your knees. She was more mighty than I have ever been.
I no longer wanted your attention and affection. I no lover craved your love. I wanted you to reserve everything you had to give our daughter.
Like many other families, the chastisement of a penitentiary sentence rips families apart. We are no exception. Refusing to acknowledge you by your birth name, they’ve reduced you to a number. Shackled at your ankles and wrist, this sentence brutalizing your sense of identity and imprisoned your physical body. Helpless in my ability to free you, defenseless in my ability to change this outcome for our child, the only thing I can control is our daughter’s perception and appreciation of who you are, despite your incarceration.
Sadly, as I’m writing this, I am in acceptance that Father’s Day will be spent with a glass dividing you two. She won’t get to hug you, run into your arms, share a meal or her imagination with you on your special day. She’ll be filled with hopefulness, you’ll be saddened, and I’ll have to be left to comfort you both. This is our new reality.
Nothing Flows Through The Same
We miss our water. I wish I could have grasped the value of your presence before the well ran dry. Meaning, I wish I understood how impactful your loud praises outside of ballet rehearsals or gymnastic practices affected our child’s passion and performance. I don’t have enough volume in my voice, nor do I coddle her before performances; it’s always business, always excellence. You were the balance, reminding her to just have fun and no matter what, we would always be proud of her.
I wish I would have realized that she needs to be carried after long days and told repeatedly how much of a princess she is. Instead, I make her walk firmly alongside me. Stand with fierceness and pride. I refuse to let her be helpless and fearful. Your overly-protective natural made her feel safe. She was given the space to be vulnerable and needy with you.
I must admit, despite our relationship ending, I felt safe by association. Like somehow, the love you had for our child, made you more keen to my wellbeing. Initially, I was convinced you were trying to control my life, not realizing that somewhere along the way, you realized that you couldn’t stand guard over our child without keeping me safe from danger as well. You assumed the role of overseer and while I didn’t always understand your actions or I rejected your message, I understand now, you were trying to keep us from harm the only way you knew how.
Our well of compassion, security, support, and reverence has ran dry. We are thirsty. You are missed.
You Live In Her
She has these big wide eyes, like you. The way you both stare off into space, it’s as if you see things the rest of the world can’t. You live in her eyes.
She asks me to tell her things about you. I tell her about you as if you were a bedtime story. She has visions so big, they can’t be contained. She fears nothing, not even herself. She isn’t as easy to open herself up to people like me. She’s leary like you, staying to herself, cautious until you earn her trust. Prone to extreme mood swings, music and family are her escape. You are ingrained so deep in her, it’s as if you’re one.
Dreamer, risk taker, introverted, moody, bold thinker, music lover, and family, your spirit is so alive and well in a 5-year-old little girl, and I will forever nurture the many facets of your personality that flow through her
No Looking Back
Our relationship was tumultuous and I would endure all the heartache a million times again if I knew she would be the end result. We laugh about our chaos now because through it all she found us and we found love.
Life is about evolving. Evolving requires honesty. Truth is, we couldn’t love each other because we didn’t have the slightest idea what it meant to show love to ourselves.
I now know, by not uplifting you as a King, relationship or not, I was distinctively teaching our daughter that you were nothing more that letters and digits. You recognized that praising my existence was part of the package—that by not honoring me as a Queen who sent forth your reflection, you indirectly teach our child she is nothingness, unworthiness.
God knows, I can spew venom about who you were as significant other. I’m sure you have been unpleased with some of my decisions and actions along the way, but we have a child who provides us with a daily reminder that we can no longer afford to be enemies. We are a family!
This is my open letter to you. A promise, that despite the sentence handed down to you I will never allow your light to be disconnected. You will shine bright and vibrate throughout this universe unconcerned who can’t see when you are around.
This is my promise to practice forgiveness and patience daily—to let the past live where it is and solely give mention to the aspects of your personality that will teach our daughter that no matter where you are, near or far, there will never be another man who loves her the way you do.
I miss her something terrible every time I walk out that door, knowing I will return to her at the end of every day. So, I can’t begin to imagine the pain you must feel being away from her for nearly two years. I can’t reunite you two in the outside world, but be assured that the power of a person’s spirit is more powerful than their physical being. You are not here, but you are soaring skies, jumping in over your head. You are being art and music, and flowing through life. You are alive!
Happy Father’s Day. This open letter is my commitment to never allow your spirit to wane. They have reduced you to digits and numbers, but in her world, you will always be, “Daddy” to this beautiful little brown girl, that’s my promise to you.
BMWK, is pride or difference keeping you from seeing the real worth of a dad in your life? If so, what message do you want to share with your child’s father this Father’s Day?