I just got finished reading your letters.
Not to me, my mom, or my brothers or sisters.
It’s fitting that you left yourself logged into my email as you checked in for your flight to leave this morning, and that it was the first thing that I saw when I opened my computer after dropping you off. It was so nice having you here for Easter. After leaving our family in October none of us knew when you would be back. So Mom took the last money that she had saved working at the bank to bring you for a few days to visit.
But again, like it’s been for the past nineteen years that you’ve been my father, you were absent. Nothing that any of us did could please you, or make you really happy. You’d think that being with your family after months of being alone would make you happy. You left and I was just as confused as I had always been, as to why we weren’t good enough.
I decided to search your open email knowing that I would find something and hoping that I was wrong. But there they were. There were nine. Some were unfinished, mid-way through a thought, but I read them all, my heart sinking with every word, every sentence.
Her name is Irina. You met her on a Russian dating website. You flew her over to America not even two weeks ago (which I guess explains the $9000 credit card bill that you never mentioned to Mom). You’re planning on going to Ukraine to marry her, and then to bring her back to Maryland to live with you, all while keeping your family intact in Wisconsin, right?
You talk to her about what you made for dinner that night. You talk about how beautiful the flowers are in Maryland, and how you wish she was there to share them with you. You talk about the new classes you are taking at work and how lonely you feel at your job. You took a picture of a rose you bought and sent it to her. Your favorite picture of her is the one where she’s wearing a light green bathing suit.
You tell her that she is kind, compassionate, a deep woman. You say that you’ve only known her a few months, through these letters you’ve been exchanging, but how you can already see the two of you together for the rest of your lives. You talk to her with more love, compassion, understanding than you ever did to my mom or the rest of our family.
I wish I could say that I was even a little bit surprised. But I’ve known since I was little that we were never good enough for you. My mom has done nothing but love you despite your constant abuse, even though you made her feel like she was nothing because she came from another country (something that you value in Irina, apparently). Growing up, the only thing I wanted to do in the world was to make you happy. Out of all my siblings, I guess I was the one that succeeded—being featured in the paper, winning numerous awards and trophies—those were the kinds of things that would make me feel like I really belonged to you, like you wanted to be a part of my life.
But every other year you were constantly moving. It didn’t matter where—we followed you. It was only when you decided to move in the middle of my brother and sister’s junior year that my mom couldn’t keep running after you. So they stayed, and while I was at college you left them, without a father or a husband, for a job you didn’t even need because my mom was willing to go full-time so you could just be home.
I realize in reading these letters that your heart was never with us. I don’t know how, or why, but we will never be good enough for you. If a woman that you saw a few pictures of on a dating website was worth writing and saying things that you could never say to the woman who gave up everything to be with you, or the family that so desperately longs for your attention, then I guess that’s how it’s going to have to be. If running away and pretending that we, or the seven other children you’ve had from previous marriages don’t exist is what you need, then I guess we have to be okay with that. I guess we’ll just have to satisfy ourselves with letters meant for someone else, letters that you could never write to us.
I don’t know what I’m going to do or say to the rest of the family. I’m headed on a plane of my own tomorrow, and soon it will be easy enough to pretend like none of this ever happened. I’m sure they will figure out sooner or later the kind of person you really are. But honestly, I don’t think that they’re surprised. We always knew we were never really good enough to be yours.
I hope she makes you happy. I know we never will.