I am 10 and I am standing in the living room, phone dangling from the wall. As it swings, back and forth, back and forth, I wipe a tear away from my eye. I knew he loved me. Yesterday was the worst it has been yet. My back, my legs, my arms still pound with the memory of his belt and anger striking over and over. But he called me from work, all the way from work, and he told me that before he would let anyone take me away, he would adopt me and give me his last name. I knew it. He does love me. I have to try harder to be good. I have to try harder to be nice.
I am 13 and we just left my Daddy's new house. He has a new wife. Some new kids. We are living with my grandparents, and now I know, sometimes grownups make promises they don't mean. Sometimes grownups tell you things and you put your whole heart, your whole soul into those words, and then you find out...those words, even though said in love and promise, were empty. Like how you feel. Empty. I am only 13 and I am empty. I won't see him again for 13 years.
I am 20 and I am newly married. I have my first little baby swimming around and around and all I want is my Daddy to wrap his arms around me and snuggle me close and tickle me with his scruffy beard. I have his address, found online through a Yellow Pages website, and I clutch it tight in wet hands. I have to write him. If he just knew I forgave him, if he just knew I was a pastor and had a family and was a good girl, he would want to be my Daddy again. He would write me or even call me and we would laugh and he would visit and it would all be ok. And I wait...I wait weeks, and months...and Trevor holds me as I sob and weep into his arms, not understanding why Daddy won't just talk to me. Doesn't he understand I forgive him? Doesn't he know I just want to talk?
I am 26 and his picture smiles at me from the front of the funeral home. My heart tightens. I won't cry, I won't cry, I won't cry. I gave him too many tears for too long. My memory dredges up the one picture of him I don't want to remember at this moment- at his mom's funeral, my grandmother, who took us in when we got taken from him. I wanted to go to him and tell him that even though everyone else hated him, I forgave him. I wanted him to meet my sons, everything was ok. As I stood there he ignored me most completely, never once making eye contact, skipping over me in a line of people as if I were a transparent ghost of the past he wanted to run from.
My sisters tears tear me back to the present, and I hastily wipe a single tear away from my own cheek. "Dammit. That's all you get. 1 tear." I rub her arm lightly and lean in close..."he can't hurt her anymore...he can't hurt us anymore..." Her sobs pierce my heart and I want to take all her pain, all the pain she carries around since our mom left for good. But that amount of pain isn't meant for me to take. Only One can take that kind of pain. If you could see the baggage she carries it would be a hot air balloon filled with cinder blocks, strapped tight to her heart....she tries to drag it around wherever she goes and she wonders why she's going nowhere.
All I feel is light. The darkness has finally parted. The burden has finally lifted. I have let him go and I will not bring forth images or memories of what he did to my mom. To my sisters. To my heart. This is the end of the pain he will ever cause me. This is where the woman is born. The girl is left behind, in this funeral home, and the woman, brave and confident will step out into the world, ready to fight. Not how they taught me to fight. Not with fists and lies and belts and hatred. This fight will be with the greatest weapon you could yield- love. This is a fight against abuse, injustice, idolatry, adulatory, faithlessness. I will fight for the widow, the orphan, the homeless, the innocent. His shadow no longer holds me down, holds me back in the darkness of fear. My Abba Father has set me free, I stand tall in the One who showed me what love really means. And I say goodbye to Daddy.