Four year old me loved my dad more than anyone in the world. I would pick dad over mom ANY DAY. Some of my earliest memories are of me sitting on the couch on my dads lap watching scary movies. But you know what? I was never afraid. Know why? My dad was the strongest, bravest person I knew and in my heart I believed that he would protect me from the monsters that lived under the bed and in the closest and outside my bedroom window and on the TV. I loved being with dad.
Then, one day, like a dream you didn’t quite get to finish, he was gone. Vanished. Like time that slips away and sand blowing through the wind and that moment you wished could last forever- he was gone.
And now begins the chase. 19 years of glimpses, was it a dream or was it real life, is that him in that car or down that aisle or on the third page of the paper in the obituary- dad is that you? My mom and I, we searched long nights and early mornings. I blamed her and I blamed me but mostly I blamed her. I wish I could go back and tell her, “Mom, it wasn’t your fault, mom you tried so hard, mom I remember the nights you stood banging on doors and crying into the phone and chasing him down the road, mom I remember and the truth is, he ran from you.” Or from us. Did he run from us? You will never know, mom, maybe one day I’ll know. Or not. I will probably never know because he will never tell or maybe he doesn’t remember or better, maybe he doesn’t know. That’s it. He probably doesn’t know.
The chase ended, but did it really? Mom gave up, but, dad, I never did. Waiting up by the phone and looking everywhere I went. When I wasn’t on your mind, dad, you were on mine. You were still my hero. Eight year old me in foster care, dad, you were still my hero. Twelve years old at your mom and dads house, dad, you were on my mind.
And sometimes, the chase was put on pause. You would come home and tell me you loved me and hug me and tell me you missed me and hold my hand. Dad, when you were there you were all there and I loved every minute, every second. I thought the chase was over, I thought I was done. I thought you were home to stay, I thought this was my time, our time, your time. And it was. It was until just like the hummingbirds I watched from my window, you were gone. Like the birds, you were there one minute and then you were gone, so fast and right before my eyes, I had to blind twice, dad, were are you, please don’t go.
Heartbroken. Heartbroken. Totally and completely heartbroken, but dad it’s okay I’ll put the pieces back together, you don’t have to, dad, it’s my heart and you can’t help it, I’ll put the pieces back together and I will still love you and I will keep pursuing you, I love you, I love you, I love you. Dad, can you hear me? I LOVE YOU.
I made excuses for you and my friends told me I gave you too much grace. Grace? What’s that, I don’t know, that’s not what this is, this is love and love doesn’t give up, love doesn’t hurt, dad even if you hurt me, it isn’t your fault and I love you and that’s what love does, right dad? Love keeps giving, keeps going, keeps sacrificing, keeps on and on and on… Or does it?
You keep going in the other direction, it’s okay, maybe you don’t see me… Dad I’m here, yes, over here… No, dad- I’M HERE. He didn’t see me. That’s okay… the chase continues.
Heart on the ground, heart in the mud, heart through the rocks and the garbage and rips and tears and pieces left here and there and everywhere and it’s okay, I’ve got the pieces, but wait… Wait, I’m missing pieces… Dad, help me, dad, do you see my heart? Dad, some of it is missing, please help me find it, I’m scared, please he… No? That’s okay, dad. I’ll pick up the pieces alone.
Heart in my hand and you in my head, dad, wait up! I’m almost there… No? Okay.. I’ll wait back here.
I sit and I wait but you never come and dad, I’m sorry… I’m getting tired now.
Dad, it’s been a long time and I think you’re lost. Worse, I think you’ve forgotten. But no… that can’t be right… I see you. You keep looking back at me, why aren’t you coming back? You haven’t forgotten, you are choosing not to care…
My face feels hot and I’m confused and angry… Dad, I’m angry. Dad, I’m you’re twin and you can’t even tell me, “I love you.” Dad, I’ve been here waiting all of this time and waiting and waiting and chasing and chasing and waiting, but dad, dad I’m done with that now. I’m taking my heart in my hand and pulling you out of my head and, dad, I’m done now. I’m walking in the other direction and don’t worry about me and don’t worry about my heart. My heart will heal and I will heal but you? You probably won’t. I’m not sorry but IT STILL HURTS.
And, Shawn, the chase is done.