Mirror, Mirror, On the Wall: Daddy
Mirror, mirror on the wall who am I? What am I fighting so fiercely for or against? I pray not to be reduced to the ash heap of human emotions burnt out by fear. Help me to overcome my own frailties.
Daddy, why did you let us go? She died and we, including you, fell into the abyss of grief and loss. The longest ride I ever took was from you and her (I had not grasped the finality of death yet) my brothers and sisters, and all that I had known in four short years. Where was I going on this exile journey? It might as well have been to the moon or some remote other world. I could only crouch down, to the floorboard, as if to stop the motion. At that point, I was along for the ride. My destiny was being shaped by circumstances beyond my control. I was a child shattered into being someone else’s little girl. I was loved but there was a hole in my heart. I dreamt of her. I lay on the ground and watched the heavens feeling sure she floated behind the fluffy, white, clouds. There was a finality surrounding her departure but you, daddy, were out there and I didn’t know why I couldn’t see you. Even with all of the love that was given I still had a hole in my heart. I missed you, daddy. I missed my siblings and our laughter and play. I missed mother. It was lonely being just one.
Mother was like an angel presence in my child world but you were where I couldn’t reconcile the void. It felt like abandonment. I learned as I grew older about addiction, in your case it was alcohol. I learned to hide my longings and my unanswered questions behind a happy, go lucky smile. I, like a sponge, wanted to be filled with you and her. I remember broken promises. I remember the excitement when we were told you would be coming to visit and I remember the disappointment when you didn’t make it. I wanted all my friends to see you, the most handsome man in the whole world. I wanted them to know you were real. Each disappointment carved something inside of me. Maybe it was a need to prove my worth or to smooth the waters so I would not feel abandoned again. I remember when God became your image, daddy. I would climb upon his lap and rest in the circle of his arm right next to his heart. I needed you, daddy. I needed to know I was loved and I needed to hear it from you. As I matured my mind understood but it took a long time for my heart to catch up. The child of me remained incomplete and shattered as I searched for the mending of the hole in my heart. I fought so fiercely for things that were out of my control as the ache of loss and the feeling of abandonment ruled. I fell prone, before God and cried out. I surrender.
I understand surrender, today, in a way I could not have before. I understand with a different tenderness for me and for you, daddy. I understand the driving force behind holding on to things beyond my control. I see the wounded child in all. I feel his or her pain and the long-suffering path blazed out of fear or guilt. I have glimpsed surrender today as I peered through the veil to see a loving Father ever ready to welcome us home if we could just let go.
Surrender is more than a word; it is synonymous with God.
I love you, daddy. Thank you for carving my heart. Thank you for loving us enough to let us go.
TJ Fredericks 2005
Prolog: April 27, 2014
Well, dad, you graduated as the blinders came off and I finally grew up in the early hours of this day. I just didn’t have the tools to understand the depth of your pain and loss. One day you had a wife and six children and virtually the next you had no one. You weren’t even thirty. I am so sorry I placed such condemnation on you. I have read and re-read mother’s letters written up to just days before her death. She spoke so lovingly of us, her children, and you. One thing I was touched by was the fact you would sit at that mangle for hours ironing clothes just to help her out.
If I had to mend the hole in my heart I can’t imagine the chasm in yours. I am sorry for that. Please forgive me as I forgive you. When I wrote I forgive you I don’t even know what for. Love wipes the slate clean.
I have little girl memories and the memory of seeing you when you came to Colorado. I am thankful for our last embrace and the whispered I love you exchanges that held a lifetime in them. I forever love you, dad.
As I wrote the last word I closed my eyes. I, in that moment, saw a white dove take flight. You were finally set free from the tendrils of my needs. Tears rain a baptismal of cleansing. Thank you, Jesus, for carrying us to the sea of renewal.