Thoughts of my father are always paired with disappointment and resentment. He missed out on so many things in my life. I decided to write him one last letter. I wanted to tell him about everything he missed and everything he lost because he never got to know his daughter. I wanted to tell him about the mix of anger, sadness, longing, loneliness, and disappointment that his absence created. If I wrote one last letter, maybe it would help me move on and stop wondering if he’d ever be a part of my life.
As I prepared to write my letter, I remembered all the years I spent hoping that he would appear. I remembered the imaginary conversations I had with him when I was little and all times I wished he could be with me. I thought about talking to other kids who were growing up without their dads, like me. We were angry and disappointed, but we all wished things could change. Then I thought about the adults I know who wish they were closer to their fathers. For anyone in this position, it’s easy to talk about resentment and bitterness. It’s easy to remind ourselves that we just need to move on and accept things as they are. But if we really searched the depth of our hearts, I think this is what many of us would really want to say:
I miss you.
It’s hard for me to say it, but it’s true.
Even though I’ve grown up and I’m doing all right, I always felt like something was missing.
And I still do.
I know that everyone makes mistakes. And some mistakes lead you to places you never meant to go. Some mistakes turn you into someone you never wanted to be.
But it’s not too late.
I wish things were different.
I wish you came to my baseball games.
I wish you saw my best report card.
I wish you came to my dance recitals.
I wish you would meet my children.
There are so many things I wish I could share with you.
I’ve missed you for a long time.
And we’ve both had plenty of time to feel bad,
And we both have a lot of regrets.
But I still miss you.
People say I have your eyes.
That my smile is just like yours.
They say I’m going to be tall because you’re tall.
They say “you look just like your father!”
They say I should forget about you.
Move on. And accept the fact that you are not in my life. They say I should stop thinking about you.
But I don’t want to do that. I can’t do that.
You’re not the perfect dad, but you are my dad.
It’s not too late.
We can’t change the past. We can’t go back in time and fix things, or make things the way we think they should have been.
We can’t start over.
But can we start today?