As a kid I had very few memories of my father. He wasn’t in my life and spent majority of my childhood in jail or prison. I would always collect trinkets of his and things that he had given me. I still use one of his mugs and I just recently passed down a wooden baby doll bed that he gave me to my daughter. I can remember gathering all of the items and setting them on a shelf where I would pray. It was there that I developed a relationship with God. I attended mass and catechism which educated and taught me the exercise but it was through the hard times that I built my Faith.
I truly never understood his absence. I’ve read that it’s common for children with absent fathers to have a challenged relationship with God but I can say, in my case at least, it wasn’t that way. I always went to Him with my struggles, my hopes and my dreams. I have questioned his discretion and his why, but I haven’t ever strayed from his healing.
Over the years I would google my father’s name just to see his mug shots. It’s embarrassing to admit that, but it would give me hope. Hope that he hadn’t forgotten about me or purposely made the decision not to seek out a relationship with me. Each new photo was an update and one step closer. I kept track of his release date and told myself that when he got out and contacted me that I wouldn’t push him away. I would give him another chance.
Knowing he got out and hadn’t contacted me gave me a lot of anxiety. I was an adult. I wasn’t a little girl who needed her daddy. I missed the opportunity to have that relationship. Even with that reality, I stayed faithful. It stung a little bit when kids would ask me why I only lived with my mom or when I would go to softball practice and see girls warming up with their dads. The first time I ever attended a wedding I had to walk out during the father daughter dance because I just couldn’t bare it.
I was just shy of 21 when I got the call that my father needed me. He didn’t need me to be in his life, or need to speak to me – he needed me to be his next of kin. He had committed suicide and I hadn’t even gotten a chance. I’ve never felt more devastated. For the first time in my life I had to face the fact that I would never have a dad. There wasn’t hope anymore.
I’ve had people ask me about the situation. A lot of people don’t understand how I could be so upset over someone I didn’t have a relationship with. Some people have expressed that they are surprised that I still visit where his ashes were spread. What people don’t realize is that I had a spiritual investment in this relationship. I have prayed over this relationship more times than I can count. I had an unwavering faith that I would have a father one day.
God doesn’t make mistakes and he knows my heart. He knew I ached for that relationship. He also knew my father. He knew what he was capable of and he knew his demons. Imagine being so happy that something you’ve prayed over for over a decade is coming true and then you get the news. The reality. It’s a roller-coaster of disbelief, confusion and shock – masked in anger and deep sadness.
I can’t say I agree with his choice because I honestly still don’t understand it. But grief is a complex emotion. All of this time my absent father was a door in my heart that was wide open. It made me sad and angry but it also led me to God. I’ve been able to gain closure through the closing of that door. However, it was a fight.
I had to get to a point where I could accept that I would never get an answer to the famous – why me? I had to learn that most of the time people are dealing with something that you can’t see from the outside. Sometimes people won’t accept you or understand you, and that is their loss.
Do yourself a favor and don’t make those things your business. I can promise you that you can feel peace without those answers. It’s not something that happens overnight, it takes a lot of patience and self care.
Lastly, you do not need another person to validate your feelings. Feel how you feel. Let yourself go through those emotions. Lean on our Father and do not lose faith in his actions and his presence in your life.
You are not alone.