I always thought about you. I thought about what you looked like. I thought about how you spoke. When I was younger I’d imagine you being in my life. I’d imagine us having this infinite bond that most girls would speak about. I longed for the privilege to call myself “daddy’s little girl.” You would write to me. You would send me beautiful drawings and scriptures from the Bible. It was because of you I learned my first prayer, the Lord’s Prayer, at the age of five. In the letter you specifically said, “Say this every night right before you go to bed.” Every night before I would fall asleep I would say,
Our Father who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us,
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
Although I did not understand the words that I was saying, I still did it every night because you told me to. It was like our little bond. But I grew up and with age I realized that my fantasies were never going to come true. I would never be daddy’s little girl and never was daddy’s little girl. I would never have that bond that my other friends shared with their fathers. I began resenting you. I felt like I was not enough for you. I felt like I was not enough for you to change. I was not enough for you to want to be there for me, to be in my life. I was incomplete. I was empty.
On your deathbed you asked to see me. I was 18 years old and ending my first year in undergrad. I was told you did not have much time left. I did not feel sorry for you. I did not want to hear how you were sorry for never being there. I did not want to hear you ask for my forgiveness. I was not ready to forgive you. I think what I was most afraid of was seeing how although you were not in my life I was still a part of you; we were a part of each other. I did not want to see myself in you.
As I got older I realized resenting you was doing me more harm. You could not feel my wrath. You could not see the tears I cried every night. You could not feel the void in my heart. You could not see the envy in my eyes every time I saw a little girl with her father. You could not feel the longing in my soul when witnessing fathers pick their daughters up from school, wishing one day you would pick me up and say, “How was your day, Princess?” So I started letting you go. I came to terms with my pain and how you chose a path in life that did not include me.
Four years after your passing I lit a candle in your name. I know I have made you proud despite your lack of presence in my life. But I forgive you, for I cannot continue to carry resentment because of things for which I know you carry endless guilt. May your soul be at ease, because mine is.