GG (9/15/90 / Chicago)

Memoir

Stone cold, rock hard
Solid ground, feet planted firmly
He's not going anywhere

Stomach churning
Mechanical movement
Straight line

Face the music
Face the doom
Face the father

This is the conflict I face.

He was always there
Always
Always
Always
Always

He is forever there
Forever
Forever
Forever
Forever
And I just came to realize it.
Before the divorce I loved him,
I cared for him
Only he was never there

Night after night
He would come in late
Long day of work
Long day of play

And I would leap from my bed
Stepping on Legos and breaking my favorite toys
Suddenly indifferent to the plight of my childhood friends
Suddenly energetic
Suddenly alive at the chance to be loved.

First one at the door
First one
Arms around him
First one
How was your day?
First one
We saved you some dinner.
First one
I love you daddy.
First one.

First one to love, first one to hate, first one to come back.

First.

I never understood why I love him,
I never understood why I care.
I always have, I always will.
I just know that now.

I know why I love Mommy,
Charming and beautiful and bright.
Powerful and lovely and perfection.
She was always there.

So every night
Without fail
I would dance and flutter for him,

Wrinkled suit, too tight shoes.
Stuffed briefcase, lines across his angel-face.
A beautiful man, worn by time.
Young and energetic, yet nature deemed him way out of line.
Crippled by work, crippled by his dreams.
He strives on, for us.
Everything,
For us.

Mere entertainment
Until I dropped from exhaustion
And he'd carry me up to bed

Only I wasn't quite asleep
And managed to mumble a few choice words
I love you, daddy.
I love you, too. Forever.
I always said it
I always meant it
I always believed it

And then I watched Mommy fall apart.
And then I watched Daddy walk away.
And then I just watched.
Dead.
I stopped believing it
I stopped meaning it
I stopped saying it
Stopped.
Our relationship was bland,
Our relationship was unhealthy.
Our relationship needed help.

As in all terrible situations,
I spent a few years playing the blame game.
Childishly hiding from reality,
Forcing it upon someone else.
Woe is me.
That could have continued for the remainder of my life,
But I have a father

A father who cares,
A father who loves,
A father who provides.
A father who would wait for me.

Mom would always push me hard.
Tell me I was destined for greatness,
And that I was perfect already.

Dad would always be there for me.
Tell me he loves me,
And would never abandon me.
You are everything, my everything.
I went on a trip to the South Pacific,
Gone forever,
Or at least the part of me that
Didn't care
Didn't love
Didn't provide
Didn't wait.

The part of me that blamed him,
The part of me that hated him.
The last vestiges of a child whose life had been torn apart.
I came back a liberated woman.

Finally I was free,
Finally he was free.

A father,
No longer held accountable
No longer hated
No longer avoided.
Suddenly understood.
Suddenly my father again,
Except this time I knew why I love him.

I am independent,
I always have been.
I am strong,
I always have been.
I am equipped,
I always have been.
When I returned from Australia I added something to this list.
Loved.
I had always heard this,
I had never believed it.
He had always said it
He had always meant it
I had always said it
Only now I really meant it.

He will stand behind me,
No matter how I injure him.
He will do whatever it takes
To make me happy.
Or whatever I decide that I want.

He will always be in my cheering section,
He will always tell me the truth.
He will always punish me for wrongdoings,
He will always take care of me when life kicks my ass.

I was the first one.
I am the first one.
I will always be,
First.

But these things are never fully realized,
The extent of a person's love for another is rarely noticed.
It is only taken for granted.

Shoes off,
Feet out the window.
Whoop and yell,
I'm finally home.

Crappy food,
Smelly apartment.
The lost boys,
All standing at my command.

But what good is an officer with no one to back them up,
What good is an officer if mutiny rears it's ugly head?

I deceived my father,
I lied to my mother.
Hell no,
This wasn't the first time.
Hell no,
This wouldn't be the last time.

Hell yes,
This time was different.
This time I had gotten lazy.
This time I underestimated.
This time I took my support for granted.
This time I got caught.

Do I need to be worried?
No, Dad, I'm fine.
Just grabbing food with the cross country girls.
Okay, call me if you need a ride.
Of course I would lean on him.
Of course I would call on him.
Of course I would use him.

Again and again.
But this time he stood up.
This time the robot softened.
This time he didn't say he loved me,
It went without saying.

I walked straight up to him,
No I was not afraid.
I was expecting an army to throw my words at.
But what I found was a man.

I was expecting Hiroshima,
But what I got was a hug.
He was man, blazing mad.
But he was relieved.

He was teary.
He was tired.
He was relieved.
He was hurt.

He took his time,
Chose his words.
He knew how precarious our situation was.
What he should have realized is that he needed no words,

That silver tear said everything.
And I said nothing.
I had nothing to say.
We just knew.

I love him,
I know why.
I care for him,
I know why.
I will always be there for him.
I know why.
I will always stand by him.
I know why.
I know myself.
And I know why I know that too.

I love him, and not just because he is Daddy.
I love him because he is human.
I love him because he is gracious.
I love him because he is caring.
I love him because he is Daddy.

Part of me still is that girl
Dancing around on the kitchen floor with a sunshine smile
Part of me will always be that girl
The dark sadist who blamed her father for the divorce

But back then I was frozen,
Stuck in time.
Unable to open up,
Unable to close that part of my life

By allowing myself to be loved I have moved into another body
I am still me, all my parts are intact
I am still me, all of my history intact
But I can finally move forward.

This monster, this father
Has allowed me to do that
By some miracle I have been given a gift many divorced teens will never receive
Closure.

by Garrity Guenther

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