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One of the first times my dad and I met as an adult
I was guarded
emotionally and physically.
During the years of our separation walls around my heart were formed
and nothing
would allow the deep loss to show.
I tried to understand how a dad could leave children
but it was nearly impossible for me
especially once my own children were born.
A child carries a deep emptiness when a parent leaves.
Children cannot fill in the gaps so they try to internalize the why and
sometimes they tell themselves it perhaps
was their fault.
The reality is: it is never the fault of the child. 
Adults make choices
and children have to live with those choices.

I remember so many times growing up wondering
if he would be proud of me and why I didn’t matter to him.
I remember so many times looking into crowds at the mall
or rodeos or in a store guessing what he might look like.
It was a loss that was deep and unfinished.
It was like a part of myself was missing.
When I met my dad in my thirties it was a bit surreal and strange.
My body language told him you cannot hurt my heart again.
We visited and I noticed he had humor and was funny.
We kept the conversation far away from real feelings.
My husband later said to me, “You are so much like him even though you were not raised by or with him
you are his daughter. You are the same in many ways.”
It was a strange validation and yet I purposed in my heart to remain guarded.
So much had been taken from us…my sisters and I.
When he left us as little girls we were unprotected…vulnerable and
without choices of our own.
Each of us internalized the loss differently.
We moved many times and as we learned to adapt to each school situation we never knew if we should make friends or not. Attachments were not easy for us.
Our mother was broken emotionally and we became the remnants of her brokenness.
Life for us was not easy and I could not pretend with him on this visit in my home that our relationship would heal quickly.

Later in my thirties our parents were remarried.
It was very difficult and it angered me that we had to go through so much as children only to have them remarry later.
Therapy helped but it never answered all the questions.
They remain married to each other for almost 20 years now.
I am not angry any more it serves no purpose and won’t bring back what we lost.
They are growing old together and they are faithful to each other.
My dad is very ill now and time has become our enemy.
He is in his late 80’s and his life is slowing down.
I imagine when he leaves us my heart will hurt on many levels.
We can never get back the years that were lost.
We can never re-create the ‘family feeling’ that left so long ago.
We can be glad that he is safe and somewhat comfortable.
We can also be glad that he is not alone.
When it is time to say our final goodbyes in my heart I will know
or at least I will hope my dad understands my forgiveness.
Yes it scarred our lives and hearts to have abandonment be a part of our history.
My sisters and I did the best we could at the time to deal with our reality back then.
When our parents are gone the reasons why things were difficult for us won’t matter as much.
What will matter is sharing our golden years together as sisters and knowing that we will remain faithful to each other.

I don’t know how to say goodbye to a dad I have never really known.
In my heart I cannot let fear of the next few months rob me of precious time together.
In my heart I must find courage and strength to say what needs to be said and do what needs to be done.
I pray for my dad.
I pray for his peace and comfort and a quiet within his spirit.
When he leaves it will be a very hard and difficult day.
I am my fathers daughter and in my heart there will always
be a ‘place for the man I used to call daddy.’