So I was watching this movie earlier, called “Janie Jones”. It’s about this has-been rock star who, while in the middle of a comeback tour, suddenly finds himself responsible for a 13-year-old girl who turns out to be a daughter he never knew about. The plot is simple and predictable…you know how it goes. Rock star finds out he has a kid. Rock star denies it. Kid’s mother goes to rehab, leaves kid with Rock star Dad. Rock star changes his ways…grows up. Rock star starts to care…accepts kid as his. Rock star Dad and kid live happily-ever-after. THE END. Like I said…predictable. Even so, it wasn’t half-bad. It was actually kind of cute.
Anyhow, it got me thinking about my own father. Similar to the move, I never had a relationship with my father until I was 16. He wasn’t around much while I was growing up. I think I was about 3 years old or so when he and my mother split up–so I don’t have many memories of him and I. Believe it or not, I think it’s probably a good thing that I was so little and don’t remember too much. It was different for my sister and brother than it was for me. They were older when he left, so they remember more…which is why his leaving was a little harder on them. They have memories of him being there. I don’t. The old adage “you can’t miss what you never had”…well it rings true in this case. Him not being there was all I’d ever known, so it didn’t bother or affect me really. I only remember him coming around a couple of times when I was growing up…and even those memories are hazy. Sometimes I wish I could remember more though. I mean, it sucks, it really does. It’s especially hard when he calls and talks about all these things that he and I used to do together. Like how we’d go for ice cream every Sunday, just him and I. Yeah, I don’t remember doing that…or any of the other things he says we did, for that matter. It’s almost as though he thinks that if he talks about it enough, that I’ll suddenly remember. It’s not going to happen. It’s bittersweet, you know? I mean, it saddens me that I can’t remember…and frustrating because I wish that I could. On the hand, it makes me a little angry with him sometimes because, after all, it’s his fault that I don’t have those memories to begin with. I mean, he left, you know? He chose to walk out and not be a part of our lives. That was all his doing, not ours. Granted, he had his reasons for leaving and all, but still…he left us. His reasons aside, it was st ill wrong. He was our father. We needed him, and he wasn’t there.
It wasn’t just his leaving that hurt, though. He didn’t just move to another town. He moved to a whole other state, nearly 1000 miles away. He also got remarried and started a new family. And in doing so, it’s like he forgot about us. We have a step-sister and a step-mother, as well as an 18-year-old half-brother that we’ve never even met–who for years we were led to believe was just a step-brother. With that fact, there comes a sense of betrayal. I think what hurts most about the whole situation is knowing that he was there for them–his step-daughter and our half-brother–but he wasn’t here for us. Even though I know it’s not their fault that he chose to be a father to them and not to us–it’s hard to NOT feel somewhat resentful towards them. I mean, they had what at we should have had–what we DESERVED to have. He was there for their childhoods and to tuck them in at night and to teach them how to ride a bike. He went to their sports games and concerts and graduations…but not to ours. That kind of betrayal…I don’t think it ever goes away, no matter how many years go by. It just doesn’t.
To his credit, he wasn’t a deadbeat dad. Not technically. He paid child support, just like he was supposed to. I have to give him points for that I guess–considering all the deadbeats and sperm donors out there that plant their seed and run for the hills, so to speak. Maybe I’m being ungrateful for saying this, but it wasn’t enough. We deserved more. And all the child support and money in the world cannot and will not make up for him not being there or the lost years of time that we will never ever get back. He missed so much. I mean, granted that’s his loss and something that he will have to live with for the rest of his life…but it’s also ours.
I guess I should just be grateful that we have a relationship now–considering everything that’s happened. And I am grateful…I am…but still. Sometimes I can’t help but wonder what might have been–had I not taken the initiative and contacted him all those years ago, like I did. I wonder if he would have bothered to contact or seek me out, when or if at all. If I hadn’t called him–would he have ever called me?
I must have asked myself a hundred times–if not more–over the years…asked why. So many whys. Like why did he leave? Why didn’t he want us? Why we weren’t enough for him to stay? When I was a kid–and before I knew better–I was sure it must have been something that we did that made him go. That we’d done something to somehow make him love us less. Naturally, as I got older, I eventually realized the absurdity in that kind of thinking. I know now that it wasn’t our fault and that we weren’t to blame for his leaving…at all. It sounds crazy, but I think it would have been better if we had been to blame…for the reality and the truth of his leaving hurts far more–in that he chose to leave us because he wanted to and simply because he could. What’s even worse is that he didn’t even bother to stay in touch…though he had ample opportunity to do so. He could have called more. He could have visited more. He chose to do neither.
While I’m grateful that we now have a relationship of sorts, it’s also really hard sometimes–mostly because I know it’s not like it should be…and it never will be. All the time in the world isn’t going to change or erase the fact that he wasn’t there It’s always going to be there between us, whether we like it or not.
**P.S. I found this poem from years ago..**
Where did you go?
I need you here.
Daddy, please come home.
Tell me what to do,
Tell me how to feel.
Why can’t you see–?
How much I need you here?
To check my closet for monsters and calm my fears,
To dry these tears,
The ones I’ve held back all these years.
Take me away, from here.
I’ll go with you, I’ll go anywhere.
Daddy, where are you?
Why can’t you hear my plea?
Why don’t you care?
Why wasn’t I enough–
Enough to make you stay?
Why’d you have to go away?
So very far away.
You don’t write.
You don’t call.
Just birthday cards in June,
and Christmas, too.
That’s all I ever get from you.
X’s and O’s and crisp, folded bills.
It’s not enough, why can’t you see?
I don’t want your money.
I just want you here.
Daddy, please…say you miss me.
Say you love me.
Say it wasn’t easy—?
To just walk away and leave?
What did I do wrong to make you go?
If I say I’m sorry, will you come home?
Please Daddy, I feel so alone.
I can’t do this on my own.
There’s still so much that I don’t know…
But oh, how fast the years have flown.
I’m almost thirteen now, you know.
I’d like to think that you’d be proud,
If only you could see me now, somehow.
But just like mom, you’re not around.
She’s with him; she’s always gone.
And when I need her most, she’s nowhere to be found.
Why can’t she see that what she’s doing is wrong?
It’s like I don’t matter to her at all.
If only I could get away.
I doubt she’d notice anyway.
It’d be so easy…I could just disappear.
Go anyplace, go anywhere.
Daddy, I need you here.
To hold my hand,
To show me the way.
To tell me everything will be okay.
Come home, Daddy, please.
Come back home…to me.
P.P.S. Some lyrics to go with… “Confessions of a Broken Heart”
“…And I carry the weight of the world on my shoulders. Family in crisis that only grows older. Why’d you have to go? Daughter to Father. I am broken, but I am hoping. Daughter to Father. I am crying. A part of me’s dying…And I dream of another you. One who would never, never leave me alone to pick up the pieces. A daddy to hold me, that’s what I needed. Daughter to Father. I don’t know you, but I still want to. Daughter to Father. Tell me the truth. Did you EVER love me? And these are the confessions…of a broken heart…”