22 July 2012

An open letter to my Dad

So... I googled you today. It turns out you really don't have much of an internet presence. Which is funny, considering that in my mind your presence is comparable to encompassing the world in it's entirety. Yet, when I go to find you, the world takes scarce notice of your existence.

What does that mean?

I grow older and richer with life's experiences and it has been interesting to remember that you have played no part in that. Well, that's not true. Whenever I think a silly thought I hear it in your "chef" voice and can picture the t.v. chef you were imitating. Other times I am struck by a certain shade of yellow or a breeze of orange and am instantly transported to my child-self who delighted in crunching fall leaves as I walked beside you in the forest. My memories all hold a fascinating glow and you are the person who hold my attention. As if the world itself was revolving around you.

But it turns out that I am capable of making those big decisions that meant taking a good hard look at the person that is you. Understanding the person that I always imagined you were. And letting go.

It's funny that if we were to bump into each other at a gas station that we might not recognize each other. That my family would be as foreign to me as yours to me and yet we both carry some of the closest titles people can bear. Father. Daughter. Grandfather. Aunt.

What steps brought us here that might have been altered? Is there any redemption for us? Sadly, I really don't think there is. Funnily enough, it wouldn't be for myself alone that I would reject you. It would be for my child who has no concept of your place in my world. It would be for my husband who has had to pick up the broken pieces of me that your absence places in my heart. It would be for my younger sister whose wound from being abandoned has been an invisible pit she has had to slowly dig herself out of. It would be because you know none of this. You know none of this yet you are the architect.

My own turning point came in the form of my husband. It came in the form of a man that I know would never, never absent himself from his daughter's life except in death itself. That our own relationship is independent of his devotion to her. That she would never know what I know. That her father could start a whole new family and leave behind the children who are no longer convenient to his new life.

This letter might strike you as angry, but truthfully it is not. Lacking emotions was the greatest gift to come of our estrangement. A couple of years ago I was struck by the random realization that I had, or have really, no idea if you are still breathing or not. This thought brought nothing to me. No desire to attempt to reattach our connections, no frantic leap into the internet to prove the idea wrong. Nothing. It held the same importance as a flood in Zimbabwe or a coup in India. Surely it must be important but the effect on my life is negligible. Is my apathy a defense mechanism? Or is it just the natural evolution of human relationships that no longer impact your life?

So why did I google you tonight?  Honestly, it came after randomly wondering how a couple of my ex's were getting along. I was wondering if any had started down the path of parenthood yet and was just curious. When I started thinking about parenthood you came to mind.

This letter really won't ever reach you even if it's online. I know this because one day not so long ago you encountered my husband and didn't even recognize him. He recognized you though. So I know that you don't know my married name or even who I am married to. It's likely you wouldn't recognize your granddaughter's name since the last time you heard it was the day she was born.

And really. That's ok.

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