What You Missed
Do you recall the excitement and the light in your eyes when Mom told you she was expecting me? Giving her ginger ale and crackers for her morning sickness and rubbing her swollen feet? Remember the awe you felt when you heard my heartbeat for the first time or when I first kicked your hand? Remember the pleasant surprise you felt when you saw my shock of red hair at my birth that quickly turned to horror when you saw that I was black and blue with no signs of life? Or your tears of relief when you finally heard my first cries, knowing that God just answered your prayers and that I was going to be ok. Remember how fragile I felt in your arms and even after having twin boys how scared you were about having a girl. Remember how protective you already felt?
Remember your chuckles of amusement when your little lady insisted that her toddler self would rather go naked than wear dirt? This would happen at some of the most inopportune places. You and Mom just packed extra clothes for incidentals.
Remember the delight you felt when you realized that I inherited your athletic abilities in Jr high because I clearly didn't get them from Mom. Never missing a softball, volley ball game, or track meet or the countless games I cheered at because even you knew that cheerleading is a sport. You wouldn't be told otherwise. Or the pride you felt when I came home and told you that I clocked Matt Stafford in the jaw for calling me sl*t at school? I'm pretty sure that gave you years worth of bragging rights.
Remember the tears you hid as you watched me cross the stage in my cap and gown after wondering if we would ever survive math, hormones, or boys. The night I sobbed for hours on your shoulder because Rick, my first love, broke my heart. I'm not sure who was more upset...you or me. Comforting my boy's broken hearts makes me wonder if it was you.
Remember the nervous energy we both shared before you walked me down the isle? The giggles and bad jokes replaced what was really going on inside each of us. You knew you were giving me away and I knew that I was letting go. I'm fairly certain neither of us was ready...and maybe never would be.
Remember when you stood outside the operating doors waiting for me? While everyone was oohing and aahing over your new grandson, you knew something was wrong. Why hadn't I come out yet? What were they not telling you? The fear in your eyes was something I'd never before seen when you saw me drained of most of my blood, not yet knowing that you almost lost me again. Death in childbirth, after all, is nearly unheard of in this day and age. But your talk with the president of the hospital gained some much needed answers.
Remember when you caught me when I fell in a heap on the floor when they took Sebastian back for a surgery he only stood a 50% chance of surviving? The anguish on my face when we finally got to see him, when he was unrecognizable and nearly cut in half was almost more than you could take. You didn't have words. Just your presence was enough.
Remember how ecstatic you were when I told you I was attending culinary school. After all you were the cook of the family. I must have gotten it from you. Mom is awesome at a lot of things. Cooking is not one of them. You were so proud of the fact that even with a husband and children I made it my goal to be a college graduate. I even taught you a thing or two (although you'd never admit it).
Remember the joy you felt being called Grandpa? You never thought you would like that name. "Grandpa" was for old men. All of that changed with Sebastian, then Chancellor. Little boys look up to their grandpas. You couldn't get enough.
Today as I was getting ready for work the song "Piece By Piece" by Kelly Clarkson came on. I couldn't help but think of you. These words hit too close to home.
"Piece by piece I fell far from the tree
I will never leave her like you left me
And she will never have to wonder her worth
Because unlike you I’m going to put her first and you know
He’ll never walk away,
He’ll never break her heart
He’ll take care of things, he’ll love her
Piece by piece, he restored my faith
That a man can be kind and the Father should be great."
Because all of these moments in my life took place. You just weren't a part of them. "What if" questions replace memories. What if you had actually been excited about the thought of me? What if you were there to comfort and support Mom when she was expecting? What if she wasn't, in fact, tortured and left for dead so I would be also? What if you had been there with her as I made my way into this world? Would actually meeting me have made a difference? Would you have protected me at all costs? I'd like to think so. Don't daddies do that for their little girls?
I fell in love with my children the second I knew I was expecting. I have wondered from time to time if it is different for fathers. But then I would think about my step-father (or dad) who has been in my life for over thirty years raising me as his own. He had the privilege of giving me away when I wed. We shared that special moment. After all l, he suffered through and relished in my teen years. He taught me the how to drive a car. He spent endless hours tutoring me in math. He raised h*ll in the hospital after Sebastian's birth. He comforted me when Seb was sick. I think about my grandfather. He raised me to be the woman I am today. He never missed one game until he became sick. He comforted me when a boy broke my heart. My mom raised me as a single mother. She never asked you for a dime even when things were at their hardest. She paced outside those OR doors worried sick. To you it was probably a typical Friday.
As I was praying with Lincoln tonight and tucking him in I thought of you...as I have every so often over the years. You missed a lifetime of love, laughter, heartache, attitude, feistiness, wit. It's very hard not being disappointed in you, but I am more disappointeded for you.
You see...we've never met, but I am half of you. What have you given me? I may never know. A second's worth of decision on your part has taken decades and God to undo. I certainly can relate to the young ladies I've worked with who never knew or were abandoned by their fathers. A part of me is grateful for the knowledge of what they're going through. I do my very best to instill in them that we are not defined by our parent's choices. That there is a reason we were made, and that our Heavenly Father loves us unconditionally and will never, ever leave.