My dad is the furthest thing from perfect. He’s made mistakes. Big ones. I’ve made mistakes. Big ones. But today isn’t about that. Not at all.
Exactly 2 years ago, August 3rd, 2009 was a day that I will never forget.
I want to say that I remember the day vividly, but I don’t. I do remember sitting on my dad’s sofa at 9PM at night and crying very hard.
After listening to me sob for hours, my dad came over, sat next to me, and buried his head in his hands.
“I’m sorry”, he said.
I couldn’t even muster up the breath to ask him why he was sorry. I just looked at him with what I’m sure was puffy red eyes.He kind of knew what I wanted to know.
“I’m sorry you’re hurting so badly. Am I a bad dad?”
Many of you only know my father from random stories about vibrators and personal lubricant in his hair. He’s more than that. He’s street smart, but not book smart. I have to buy cards with easy to read words so that he won’t be embarrassed that he can’t read it. I have to read the menu for him. He knows I know he can’t read, but it goes unspoken. I kind of just know when he needs me to read a story, a letter, or a greeting card for him.
When my dad asked me if he was a bad father, I remember looking at him with the tears in his eyes, and all I could do was say “I’m sorry. I’m so broken. Why am I so broken?”
He didn’t have an answer for me. I assumed his decision to get up and walk away meant that he was admitting that I was broken, but he just didn’t have an explanation of why. After a few hours of trembling, fever, and uncontrollable sobbing, I calmed down enough to walk upstairs to get a shower.
After I got out I walked past my father’s room. He called me in, and I sat on the end of his bed. My dad and I have a few little bonding experiences we share, including the rolling of coins into paper wrappers. He had a pile of coins on his bed, and we sat there for about an hour, in silence. He could have made small talk, but he just knew that silence was all I needed.
When the last coin was rolled, I tapped his hand and said goodnight. He held onto my hand when I touched it, and said the words that I remember everyday:
“If you go, I won’t let you go alone. I’m coming too. I promise.”
I never told my dad about the thoughts that were spinning inside of my head. I never told him how truly unloved, messed up, and worthless I felt. I never told him that I just wanted the pain to stop and I was exploring options from in-patient therapy, to more extreme solutions.
I didn’t have to say a word, but he just knew.
He might not know how to read a book, a menu, or a piece of mail, but he knew the thing that I was scared of saying, thinking, and believing.
After that comment from my dad, I submitted an anonymous secret to Brandy’s Secret Project.
2 years ago today. My dad made a promise to me that he’s kept. No matter where I go, I’m not alone. He can rest assured that I won’t ever be going very far away. And if I do, I’ll send a postcard. No matter where I go, I will always, always come back home.
Today is my life-a-versary. Send gifts.
And even though my Dad won’t be reading this post ever, I still will be playing this song in his honor tonight. (I know. It’s Glee. But so perfect. Give a listen if you want a little bit of heart-filled-with-joy in your day!)