On March 19, 2018, while on vacation at a cruise stop in Jamaica, I found out that my father had passed away. My father has been in and out of my life since I was 4 and prior to this past August when I found out he was dying of cancer, I hadn’t seen or spoken to him in over 8 years.
I tried not to let this ruin my vacation but since I have returned home, the reality of the situation has hit me like a ton of bricks. When I found out my father was sick, I reached out to him in hopes of building some sort of relationship with him before he passed away. Unfortunately that relationship never manifested and I never got to express to him how I felt about his absence from my life. The letter below is what I would tell him today if given the chance. It may seem harsh to some but it is my truth.
My father was cremated last week and his family currently has no plans to hold a funeral or memorial service. It’s hard to get closure from death when there is no final ceremony or service at which to say goodbye but hopefully writing this letter brings me one step closer to the closure I so desperately need.
A letter to my father:
(I have never known what to call you because “dad” was too personal, Andre was too formal and “sperm-donor seemed inappropriate.)
I am heartbroken. My heart hurts every time I think of you. But not because of your death. I’m heartbroken over your life. That you lived and died alone. That you pushed away the only family you had left, even when they tried everything they could to be there for you. I mourn the fact that you died never having witnessed how intelligent, compassionate, and vibrant this person was whom you brought into this world. I’m sad for you and all that you missed out on.
Truly, I’m not sad that you’re dead. As a matter of fact, I’m angry at your death. I’m angry that even in death you managed to do the one thing that you have been consistently good at for the last 28 years: abandoning your only child. I grew up wondering what was wrong with me, what I could possibly have done, that my own father didn’t want to be in my life. I grew up thinking that I did something wrong, that maybe I pushed him away, that somehow it was my fault. My mom would always tell me that it wasn’t my fault and that you loved me in your own way and just didn’t know how to show it. I tried to believe her but there was always this little voice in the back of my mind that questioned whether I was worthy of your love. As I got older, I started to remember that I was the child in this situation and there shouldn’t have been anything in this world that kept you from me. I watched as my mom moved mountains to make sure that I had everything I needed and most of what I wanted. I watched her struggle to fulfill both roles and give me twice as much love to make up for what I lacked from you. As I reached adulthood, I stopped caring altogether (or at least I pretended to). I stopped caring that you didn’t call me on my birthday. I stopped caring that you had broken every promise that you ever made me. I pretended that it didn’t bother me that my fathered hadn’t earned the privilege to walk me down the aisle at my wedding. But as I matured and unpacked 20+ years of baggage through counseling and prayer, I learned that it did indeed bother me. It bothered me that I didn’t have the relationship that so many other girls have with their dads. It bothered me when some knuckle-headed boy broke my heart and I didn’t have my dad to tell me that I was still beautiful and worthy of love. It bothered me when I saw the impact of not having my father in my life manifest itself in my relationships and dealings with the opposite sex. It bothered me that my biggest fear in life was being abandoned by the men in my life because the one man walking this earth who was supposed to be there no matter what, wasn’t.
I’ve had a hard time dealing with your death because I didn’t know how to feel. I felt bad for being angry at you for dying. I felt selfish for thinking only of myself and how it affected me. But I’m not the selfish one in this situation. You are. Because you abandoned your only biological child in life and in death.
I know that it will take a lot of counseling, prayer, and self-reflection to deal with the emotional scars you left behind but life will go on and I have so many people in my life who love me enough to make up for all the love I missed from you.
I don’t know where you are, whether you’re in heaven, hell or somewhere in between. But I hope that wherever you are, you see this little girl you left behind and the amazing woman she has become, and you smile. Because in spite of you, she is strong and she will survive.
Sincerely your daughter,
LaKecia Eboné Veal