(A letter to my father – who ever he is…)
I would have loved to address this letter to you as “Daddy”, but since we have never met and I don’t know your name, I think that it would be inappropriate for me to do so, therefore, I will give you respect in calling you Sir.
I’m twenty-nine years old now Sir, bone-weary, tired and finally ending a part of my journey that has been dedicated to “searching”. Searching for something and/or someone to satisfy a void in my life that I thought even God couldn’t seal. The interesting part of this journey is that I didn’t understand that the something and/or someone I was searching for was you! All this time I have been searching without a description, a sense of direction or a plan, until now.
My search began as a little girl, when I hoped you would come into my room as I called out for your protection from scary shadows that crept outside my window and made shapes in the darkness on my bedroom walls. Instead, I held my Teddy Bear, shut my eyes tight and pretended that my Prince would come to save me. I searched for your big hands to hide my kindergarten-size fingers in as I walked to school in the mornings. Instead, I settled for little Kevin who lived up the street with hands as small as mine. Even though he wasn’t big enough to protect me from the world, he cared, and he arrived on time every day, before and after school. I searched for your strong and guiding hands on the back of my bike as I tried to learn how to balance myself and ride independent of training wheels. I searched for your words of wisdom as I wondered if I should give my virginity to my high school sweetheart, because he told me that he loved me (and was the first man to ever tell me that) so I thought he deserved my pearls.
As a young woman I searched for you in the arms, hearts and beds of men. Men that were supposed to protect me, love me endlessly and without reservation, accept my faults, encourage my strengths and build up my weaknesses. I searched for you in men that cradled me in their arms, whispered sweet nothings in my ears to calm me and reassured me that my deep black skin, kinky hair, broad nose and thick hips were royally beautiful, even on my ugliest days. I thrived off their affections, doting and adoration… yet it still wasn’t enough. I accepted their gifts, let them call me baby and even called them Daddy if they made me feel special. I searched for your arm, interlocked with mine as I walked down the aisle on my wedding day… alone. I gave MYSELF away Sir, because there was no one else to fill those shoes and omitted the dance that was supposed to be in your honor from the program.
I searched for your concerned eyes peering inside the door to my hospital room to check on me as I gave birth to my only child, a little girl that shared your blood. I searched for comfort in resting my head on your shoulder when she died shortly after her birth and still I was alone. You see her father was absent that special day too… I wonder if she would have had to call him Sir as well, and I privately thank God for allowing her to leave this life so soon, sparing her from the inevitable journey of ‘searching’…like me.
As a grown up, spiritually strong, intelligent and cultured African-American WOMAN, I now know that although I can’t fill your space with anyone else, that the love and assurance I have searched for in men can only be filled by the love I have for myself and the love of God. How could I have known this as a child if you were not there to teach me? Do you know how much hurt, disappointment, rejection, confusion and anger you could have saved me from? Your presence alone was worth more than any gift you could have ever given me, and your lessons in loving more educational than any schoolhouse subject.
You were supposed to be my first boyfriend Sir, my first real man. It was in your job description as Father to teach me what to expect from men, what to ask for, how to ask for it, as well as what is required and how to love a black man and receive his love. Instead I learned to expect nothing, to appreciate the man that is at least ‘physically’ there, even though I need him to be there ‘spiritually and emotionally,’ because even that is a ‘privilege’ instead of a requirement for a loving, healthy relationship. I had no prior experience in a loving, healthy male-female relationship. You were not there to give me that ‘hands-on’ experience, by loving my mother or me.
My bone-weary and tired body has found new strength, resurgence of light and love and I can rest my traveling shoes. In all of this searching, I have finally found ME with the help of God and his Word that tells me that he is a friend to the friendless and a father to the fatherless. While I was out searching for you Sir, HE was there all the time, and I think we both owe him thanks and praise for taking such good care of me.
I love you Sir, for the seed you planted and for my life that I would not have without you. I try not to focus on what you didn’t give me, what you missed out on, or what you seemed to give up. I am sure that one day the realization of all that has passed you by will hurt you as much as it has hurt me, and I will pray for you.
May God continue to keep you Sir, wherever you are. How do I know that he is taking care of you? Because his Word says that he takes care of babies and fools and that makes us both covered. (smile)
Loving you always (wherever you are),