When Mom and I got back to my home, Dad was with some crack head woman I had never seen before. They were both extremely high. Mom took Dad upstairs to his bedroom and reprimanded him like a little boy. He took it just like that as he sat there not making eye contact, looking at the ground, nodding his head saying, “I know. You’re right.” Mom scolded him by saying things like, “What the hell are you doing with your life, Jay? You are going to get AIDS! You are going to get yourself killed. You are not being a good father to your daughter like you promised you would.”
As I eavesdropped from my room while I packed, that’s when I realized that Dad had begged Mom to keep me when she left him. That he believed, and perhaps she believed too, I was the only reason he would survive. I gave him purpose and a reason to wake up in the morning. When he begged her to keep me, seven years prior, he promised that he would take care of me and make it his purpose to be my Father.
By the time I was ready to leave, Mom was loading up the car with my stuff, Dad was on the couch downstairs, and the crack head woman was gone. I walked downstairs apprehensively, to say my last goodbye. It was going to be the last time I would see him for a very long time, we both knew it but didn’t speak of it. He felt like a ghost. His hair was wild, his blood shoot eyes were vacant, he was a shell of a body and his soul was no longer in there. He was no longer my Daddy.
I announced it was time for me to go. No response. I said how sorry I was for leaving him. He couldn’t even look at me when he got up and walked to the front door. I followed. There were heavy tears in my eyes waiting to escape but I was trying my best to be strong. When I got to the door, I tried to hug him for a moment and then he pushed me away, he pushed me out the door like I was a stranger invading his space. I was no longer his only family. He pushed me outside and shut the door. My Daddy was really gone and I felt like it was my fault.
I slowly walked through the rain to Mom’s car, doing my best to remain strong. I sat in the car, shut the door, and immediately years of tears that I had never shed exploded from my body. I sat there crying for a very long time, for what felt like days. Perhaps I am still there in some ways to this day. Mom just sat there watching me, her only daughter, her little girl crying and falling apart. There was nothing she could do but just be a witness. I fogged up the windows with my sobs and tears. She didn’t say anything. She couldn’t. She just held the space for me. What else could she do? Her little girl was broken and from just that simple knowing, she was severely broken too.
She probably thought back to all the moments years before when she considered sneaking out in the middle of the night and leaving with her baby bundled up to never look back. She probably thought about it and regretted the time she finally did leave but left her daughter behind. She must have known somehow this was meant be, at least I like to believe this to be true. She knew that I had to learn who my Dad really was, the beautiful soul she once fell in love with back when they first met in that town in Pennsylvania years ago. She knew that the stories would have never done him justice. No, Mom knew I had to know for myself, even with the pain and suffering that was here at our doorstep on that dreadful night. She watched me weep with such sorrow that would permeate through both of our souls and haunt us for years. This wound would be deep and primal for me. It was a wound that I would have to sleep with and keep there in my dreams for years because it hurt way too much to bring it out to the light for it to really heal. It would take the miracle of Dad dying for that process to really begin.