Each week, a wonderful group to which I belong posts a new writing topic. Their attempts to broaden the imagination and educate through Life's experiences are what hooked me months ago. This is last week's installment for "Blogging For Fun:"
It was the one thing she desired the most, and the only thing I couldn't give her.
But, I'm getting ahead of myself.
I must first mention that she was born during a time of great turmoil. As darkness approached me at lightning speed, she bathed me in sunlight. And of all the knowledge I'd garnered in my years on this earth, this was the first of many times that I realized when everything seems its darkest, a light shines from somewhere—the least likely of places most times—to brighten the way.
I was young then—very young. The last thing I needed was another mouth to feed. Hell, I had no idea from where my next meal would come. And now, now, there was another person to provide for. Could it get any worse? (I must note that we should never ask ourselves this question. I learned the hard way that there's always somewhere—something—darker, deeper, more sinister, and more turbulent than most of what befalls us from time to time.)
But, one look into those deep, dark eyes and I knew that nothing else mattered but the tiny life I held in my arms. I couldn't stop touching her hands, her feet, her face, and her hair. I was mesmerized. She was perfect—in my eyes at any rate.
That was how it all started.
And now, at the end, I may just have the answer as to why she and I stumbled from one erratic episode to another through our lifetime together. And why, perhaps, she doesn't have that one thing. Funny how much clearer our lives become in the dark?
I Corinthians 13:12 for now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
I gaze into her reddened, swollen eyes now and feel the same undying affection I felt all those years ago. Within the depths of their pooling, yet somehow soothing, anguish my every memory reflects there. They trickle down her cheek like an unraveling reel of film. With each tear, I see another memory—another truth—as it exposes itself.
First, I often mentioned how this woman that sits on my bed—my daughter—was very unlike me. That she and I were as different as night and day. But nothing is farther from the truth.
She is very much like me.
We are strong-willed, determined, and unyielding. Additionally, I often think that she hasn't one creative bone in her body. And yet, she has many. As an Interior Designer, her creativity is evident. Her designs are stunning, efficient, and refreshingly new. She is at her best when her back is to the wall. When push comes to shove, she's rarely cornered for long. She volleys the alternatives to any situation in her mind, and armed with resourcefulness and originality, she breaks free. My daughter is the best person to approach with a problem—any problem. If she doesn't know the answer, she'll find it one way or another. This "never give up, never surrender" attitude resides within me as well. It's not always a good thing. But it's mighty handy to have around when Life's equations have numerous solutions.
My mind fills with many other examples. So much so, I now wonder why I ever thought us poles apart.
Next, anger plagues us both. Anger so intense, one must question its origin. Is it inherent? Contagious? Or does it merely seem that way? I know that my father had it and his father before him. So did my great grandfather, come to think of it. This rage reared its ugly head early in my life as it did in hers. But I suppose, the less said about this the better.
Therefore, let us move on to the subject at hand: The one thing.
My daughter was seven when her birth father finally expressed an interest to see her. Before she was born, he vanished. Why he left made no difference to me. It was blatantly clear that a family was the last thing he wanted. And I didn't force the issue. So I went on with my life, and he with his. I never gave it a second thought until his call seven years later.
After hearing his voice on the other end of the telephone, I wanted to drive a stake through his evil heart ridding me of his presence forever. But, my sensible side left the decision up to the person who mattered most—my daughter. And she decided she'd meet him.
For years they corresponded.
Then one day, not long after she graduated high school, they had a falling out. I was never told the specifics of their argument. In any event, this was the last time they spoke until…
My daughter was in her twenties and a man she knew for six years proposed to her.
I was remarried, at the time, to a man my daughter had known for fourteen years. But she needed—better said: desperately wanted—her real father to walk her down the aisle. How should she approach him? she asked. And I, in return, answered, "Just ask. What've ya got to lose? Whatever happened between you, this is a once in a lifetime thing. I'm sure he'll be happy to do it."
So she called him and raised the issue. What she heard, though, was the last thing she expected to hear. He said "no," but oh no, it wasn't a blunt, matter-of-fact "no." He was too "clever" for that.
His response went something like this: I'm too busy at work; I can't take the time off. Which to my daughter's mind meant: "I could care less."
She never spoke to him again.
As a result, she posed the same question to her then step-father and he gladly accepted.
Through the years, I married four times and dated a slew of other men in between. Perhaps subconsciously, I wanted what she wanted. Perhaps, I sought out these men with ulterior motives in mind. Regardless, none of my relationships ever reached the "until death do us part" stage. And I often saw it in her eyes; heard it intermingled with her retorts; felt it when she looked at me. I robbed her of having a dad.
The years passed, however. We grew very close to one another. She bore me three grandchildren. And I finally married a man that I love, cherish, and admire with all my heart.
And now, as I lay with death's shadow looming overhead, many truths come to light. Above all, I believe our lives are richer due to our many struggles; our many joys. I believe that through our trials and tribulations, two better people emerged. Though, at times, our life was difficult, nay, grueling, even down right unbearable, I'd do it all over again.
As I close my eyes for the last time, I whisper, "I know you always wanted a father. And I'm sorry you never got one. But, I love you. And God only knows who we would have become without the past he bestowed upon us? I'm grateful for our unanswered prayers."
"Love longs for some object to be, loves to rest itself in the thing beloved. But in things there is no enduring place to lie. They don't last. They run away. And then what will our fleshly senses have to hold on to? Who can grasp such pleasures as they flit by? The fleshy senses are slow and dull, bound to taste and smell and touch fleshy things. They work well enough for what they were made to do. But they cannot lock on to an experience and keep it from running on to its appointed end."
~ The Confessions of St. Augustine
"In this life men, with much toil, seek rest and freedom from care, but through perverse longings they find it not. They wish to find rest in things which rest and abide not, and these, since they are withdrawn by time and pass away, harass them with fears and sorrows, and will not let them be at rest."
~ On the Cathechizing of Beginners