A day where families get together to honor the patriarchs in their family with gifts and praise. For fatherless children like myself—it’s a reminder of a loud absence that we try to quiet or ignore despite the years of emptiness.
When I was younger, I would always get chocked up when I’d see a father interact with their child at the playground. To be honest. I still do. When I see a dad chase their child around the playground or push them on the swing, or when I see them carry their children on their shoulders at an amusement park, tears sting my eyes. I get that lump in my throat.
Moments like these I was only privy to witness but never experience for myself. These tender moments are a reminder that someone, the someone who helped create me…
That someone did not want me.
It’s an interesting feeling, being happy for the person who can enjoy that moment. Hoping that they understand the beauty behind those everyday subtleties that fill up their “normal” yet being plagued by the painful absence in my own home and heart.
This absence then shapes a piece of our identity. The issues we encounter, the choices we make or don’t make. The relationships we build or tear down. This absence is a shadow we try not to pay attention to but follows us everywhere.
When I was 3, I remember going with my mom to the city in Buenos Aires. She helped my great aunt whom we call Tia Lopez take care of an older gentleman named Simon from time to time. Señor Simon had an old school white and gold rotary phone. You know, the kind of phone where you had to stick your finger in and turn the circular keypad to dial a number?
When mom would be distracted feeding him, I’d sneak to use his phone, dialing random numbers. I remember the sound it made and the vibration my little fingers felt as the dial rotated.
I dialed random numbers that I hoped matched my father’s phone.
In hopes that he would pick up and I could tell him I was his daughter. In hopes that we could finally meet.
I’d either get caught and scolded at for messing around with Señor Simon’s phone or an operator would tell me that there were insufficient numbers to reach my party.
When I was 4, I was able to walk to school by myself. I remember picturing my father waiting for me with balloons and my favorite chocolates at a specific corner. But every day I’d turn that corner there were no balloons. No sweets. No man I could call father.
When I was 5 I tried to call my grandfather “dad” but my mom yelled at me. She wanted me to be clear that my grandpa was my Nono and not my father. That she was both my mom and my dad.
That day I stopped using the word “dad” or any synonym of that word for that matter. For years it was like any term that resembled the word dad or father transformed into curse words.
If the conversation would arise – I’d call the man whose genetics shape me “sperm donor” because that’s all he really did. Little did I know that those choice of words would also trigger others later on.
When I was 13, I tried looking for him. The internet was up and coming and in the search engine I’d type his name but got nothing.
I tried different variations of his name on social media platforms with no success.
I became bitter.
Why do I have to put all this effort in finding him if he is the adult?
I decided that I didn’t need to look for him anymore. And I didn’t.
I was going to be content with my mom. When Father’s Day came, I’d make it a point to give my mom such honor and thank her for being my mother and father.
I thought that I “out-grew” this desire to find out who this stranger was.
But when I met my husband, I was reminded of how deep the fear of rejection is. A fear I developed at birth when I came into this world without a father.
While my husband and I were still dating, I tried to sabotage my relationship with him.
Men in my life were disappointments.
They were images of absence and rejection.
I thought I should reject my husband before he rejected me. I fooled myself into thinking that if it were on my terms it would be less painful.
Thankfully my husband didn’t buy into my antics.
His patience and love have taught me that no matter what happens he is here for good.
The way he treats our nieces lets me know that if we ever become parents, he will also stay.
His example softened my idea of men.
I no longer categorize or stereotype men as failures and good-for-nothings. Each man has his own story, his own journey, and I’m not one to cast judgement on their actions.
When I shot weddings, my favorite moment was always the father-daughter dance.
Till this day it chokes me up.
The music starts and at first, it’s awkward when all eyes are on the bride and her dad.
But then, they get to talking and swaying. The bride looks at her dad’s eyes and listens to the lyrics of the song they chose. The poetic words of the song pierce her heart. She realizes that things are different now. They both feel the change and at times even dad sheds a few tears.
I’m currently 32 years old. I still don’t know the man who’s blood runs through my veins. I also know that I’m not the only person out there that doesn’t know their father.
We come to a world already at a disadvantage. It’s an unfortunate normality now a days.
Many of us will never know the man who was designated to protect, care, nurture, and provide for us.
We deal with that absence in different ways.
My void has been filled by realizing that the only true God Jehovah is not only my Father, but he is also my God and friend.
He was there for me, even when I did not acknowledge his presence.
Even when I was doing things, I knew were wrong.
I’ve never felt more protected, cared for, and at peace.
My mother and some close friends ask me from time to time if I have the desire to search for my father.
To be honest, I don’t.
I feel regret at times, that if I have other siblings, I won’t establish a bond with them.
If I do have half siblings out there, I also don’t want to taint the image they may have of their dad. If he did rise up to that responsibility and has a happy home, why rock the boat?
People make mistakes. I know I’ve made some big ones and my God continues to forgive me.
Who am I not to extend that same kindness to a man who’s only mistake towards me was not being my dad?
People change. It’s not fair to define someone solely on their mistakes. I personally would not like that being done to me, so why would I do that to someone else?
Today—for the first time ever I write a letter to the man who planted a seed but chose not to help it grow.
This exercise helped me heal. If you see pieces of you in my story I encourage you to write a letter to the person. Try to forgive. Forgiveness is not only for the other person, it’s also for you. Sending you lots of love and light friend.