Because of you, I know that no man will save me when I fall. To brush off the dirt, but to stand up again, straight and tall and to keep on moving, even when the palms of your hands are scathed and bloody and your knees are bruised blue, is something that should be taught to all girls of three and four, and again at nine and twelve and seventeen. I have learned from you that no one will be there to protect you, protect yourself, dry your tears, run fast and be brave.
Dear father, sometimes I feel a crushing aloneness, and I wonder if you feel the same way, too?
Dear father, I cannot understand all the times that you were not there, but it’s okay now. At my high-school graduation I wore baby blue. I had too much makeup on while we waited in line, alphabetically, to take our seats. I wiped off as much as I could before the ceremony began so that I would feel more like myself. For a moment, I felt like myself. Did you know I got an A in math? No one thought I could do it, and neither did I, but I did. From you I’ve learned to be resilient, to fight. I am learning, too, that all fights are not good fights.
Dear father, at times my bones ache from the unbearable pain and I can feel my heart tighten, I can feel myself unable to breathe and the panic that shocks my body. These are the times that I am most afraid, but I survive them. I can be fearless. And yet there have been nights when I check to see if your heart is still beating, just as I used to as a little girl. I love you because I am bound to you by blood, even when I am in agony. I will never love a man who does not treat me with respect and kindness, tenderly, his one and only.
Dear father, when mother took me from doctor to doctor with no resolve and everyday I came home sick from school for months, laying in the backseat of our ’97 navy blue Camry, buildings and trees whirring past and I could only make out shapes and shadows and the blaring horns muted, I was not sick. I was ten years old and missed my father. Remember that scrapbook I made for you on your 50th birthday, so that you wouldn’t forget me? I still have it. I am still terrified of being forgotten.
Did you know that my favorite colour is blue? My favorite book is a book about blue.
Dear father, from you I have learned that if a person wants to love you, then let them, and if they hurt you, be strong and stand your ground. People will respect you only if you respect yourself.
Dear father, for so long I wanted to ask you why, but I am okay now. Some things are better left untold; some things we do not have an answer to. From you I got my temper, and I can be vicious, hurtful, relentless and vile, and afterwards I am afraid of my own body, I cannot recognize myself. I am disgusted with myself. Is that how you feel, too? I am learning to be better, slowly, to treat others the way that I want to be treated, to be kind, to be less angry, because I am really not angry at them. You didn’t teach me this one, but it’s alright, you can’t teach your children everything. Some things they must experience on their own. I’ve learnt many things on my own, and I will remember them always because they were not handed to me. Pain is a great reinforcer of memory.
Dear father, I don’t blame you, not anymore. I don’t blame myself, too. I forgive you, and I hope that you can forgive me. Without you, I would not be the woman that I am today. I am so strong, I am so incredibly strong.
Dear father, Thank you, and I love you.