After the funeral, my relationship with my dad weighed on me. It was a constant stone I carried everywhere I went. Every thought and feeling was impacted by it. Fourteen years of events played through my mind on repeat. It was torture… and it was healing.
God works in mysterious ways, and during the nine months following the funeral, He worked by putting an increasingly heavy burden on my heart about my dad, our relationship, and the part I continued to play in its failure. It is easy to forgive a child, even a teenager, for her mistakes, but as an adult you must accept your portion of the blame for failed relationships. That’s how forgiveness works.
By November, I could no longer carry the weight. It was too heavy. I told David that I needed to call my dad. I needed to try to have a relationship with him. I was at a point where I would accept whatever he was willing to give. I no longer wanted to clothe myself in a blanket of pride. David, of course, said he would support me with whatever decision I made.
I don’t remember the day or the time or even what I said, but I do know that I finally made the call. I know that David and I were invited over. And again, and again, and again. I do know that was the first Christmas I had spent with my dad in years. I do know that it was awkward (for me), but only at first. I do know that my aunt told me, “you have no idea what this means to him.” I do know that a piece of me was made whole again.
On one of those many visits we started to talk about family, his family, MY family. While we were reminiscing my dad pulled out a chest where he stored all the photos and things that were important to him, things he didn’t want to forget. As he dug for old photos of my grandfather, he removed items from the chest and laid them across the bed.
Mixed in with old pictures and WWII rifle shells were cards and letters… cards and letters that I had sent him over the years. He had saved every one. Every card. Every picture from my very unartistic hand. Every note poured from my heart.
A million things clicked together for me in that moment. All my doubts from previous years were erased. Hurt and anger were replaced with forgiveness and acceptance. My daddy really did love me.
I graduated college in May of the following year. My Dad and Gayle took David and I to Mexico as a graduation gift. I accepted a job in Houston, and David and I moved to the small town where my Dad lived. Over the next few years we spent a lot of time together. We built a lot of good memories. We were happy. We were a family.
Until December 18th.
Note: This a series I’m writing about my relationship with my Dad. This is the story of my pain based on my perceptions of events. Some of it will not be pretty, but it is time for me to set these memories free. Mistakes were made by everyone, including me, so please read with a soft heart and forgiveness so that I may forgive myself. Also, please keep in mind there are always at least two sides to every story.
Some people will probably think that I should not write this, but I offer up two quotes from Anne Lamott for the reason why I should.
If people wanted you to write warmly about them they should have behaved better.
Forgiveness is giving up all hope of having had a better past.
I will be linking these posts up with Heather of the Extraordinary Ordinary for Just Write because that is the only way I will be able to get them out… to just write.