I am so glad that I had the opportunity to get to know you for the last nine months of your life. Though our time together was much too short, I really grew to love you – and that’s saying a lot considering our past.
I have to say, you weren’t at all what I had envisioned you would be. When I was an abused little girl, frightened and ashamed, I used to dream that you would come to my rescue, like a knight in shining armor, and carry me away from the abuse. I dreamed that you would declare your love for me, your firstborn, and that you would never let anyone else ever beat me or curse me, or touch me where I didn’t want to be touched…
But you never showed up, even though I hoped and prayed that you would, year after year, after year, after year. I have to tell you, I’m very persistent by nature, and so my hope that you would love me enough to come and save me didn’t die easily. But when it did die, something happened to my heart, and it grew hard, like a stone toward you, and somewhere along the way, as one year passed into another, I grew to hate you.
When you showed up for my graduation, I was enraged. “Where were you when I needed you?” I thought to myself, while smiling and wearing a mask on the outside. You had no idea what I had been through, no idea what I was still going through. You knew nothing of my pain, nothing about the panic attacks and the constant fear I lived with.
It was many years before I saw you again, actually, it was eighteen years before I saw you or heard from you again, and I have to tell you, when I first saw you, all kinds of emotions coursed through me, including a murderous rage. I didn’t even know I had all of that in me, and I tried really hard not to show it. I was like a walking time bomb, ready to explode, like a wind up clock wound too tight.
You see, when I saw you, it triggered many painful memories that I had worked very hard to bury, and keep hidden. Now, suddenly, those memories wouldn’t stay away. They came back like a flash flood, raging out of control, and I felt as though I was drowning as I was swept away in the tide of memories.
That’s why I wrote you that letter, saying I never wanted to see you again. I was scared of those feelings, and suddenly, all of the control that I had fought so hard for was spinning wildly out of my reach. Looking back on it now, I realize that all of that rage against you was misplaced anger. You see, it was safer to be angry with you, the father that I had no relationship with, than to be angry with my family for the pain they caused.
It was after seeing you that Sunday in church, that I began going to counseling. John, I owe you a debt of gratitude for that. Even though my pain at the time was excruciating, it was necessary for my recovery, and God brought you back into my life at just the right time, so that I could finally face my pain and my fears and deal with them.
You see John, God didn’t want me to spend my whole life being the victim of abuse, and He didn’t want me to be a survivor of abuse either. He wanted more than that for me. It was God’s will for me to be an overcomer, a victor, and a conqueror.
And after the Lord healed those wounds, in His mercy, He gave me one other gift. God gave me the ability to forgive you for abandoning me as a baby. Then He did something else for both of us, He enabled us to be reconciled before you died.
During those nine months, I was privileged to know you, we were able to confess our pain and our love for one another. I grew up thinking that you didn’t love me or care anything about me, but I learned that you did love me as much as you knew how to love anyone. I was amazed that without ever having known you, I and my son had both inherited some of your mannerisms… your wacky sense of humor, and your great big loud belly laugh.
John, the Lord revealed to me that you didn’t have long to live, and that’s why I contacted you. I didn’t want you to die, and be faced with a life of regrets because I missed the opportunity to know you. And I have to tell you John, I am so glad I got to know you.
In those nine months, I learned that you were stubborn and sometimes self-centered. I learned that you were a man with a lot of regrets, and that you carried a weight of pain that you tried to hide behind your laughter. I’m a lot like that too. I learned that you were a man of excess and that you struggled with self-control. I struggle with those same issues. I also learned that you were a man who loved deeply, and you didn’t blame anyone but yourself for the wrong choices you made in your life. Most importantly of all, John, I learned that you loved me, and I learned that I loved you too, more than you could ever know.
John, I am so grateful for the time that we had together, and I have no regrets or anger because we didn’t have more time together. I’m simply thankful for the opportunity I had to know you and love you, and I pray with all of my heart, that we’ll see each other again one day, when I cross over to the other side. God bless you, Daddy John.
Cheryl A. Showers