Lately she found herself missing him.

That was new.

He was, she thought, tucked tightly away in the far corners of her subconscious; buried deeply beneath every day comforts designed to ensure she would always forget.

It was not just him that she wanted to forget, but the memories. It was the heartstrings she thought had been severed years and years ago.

You know the ones…

The heartbreak of “where are you?” And “are you ever coming for us?” She was too young to remember when her heart was initially broken, but vividly she could recall visits that started in excitement, seemed too brief, and ended in tears and wailing.

“Have I been there for you?” He had once asked during a phone call after he witnessed his niece melt down over the absence of his brother.

“Have I been there for you?” It was the oddest, most timely, most intimidating question a father could ask his tween-aged daughter.

Something in her felt she should jump at the opportunity and scream, “NO”. Her training l, though, restrained her truth, and she found that she felt sorry for him instead. “I don’t know, I guess,” she answered uncertainly. He went on with his spill, as she zoned out of whatever he said other than “I’m sorry, I’ll be better.” Maybe that’s what she wanted to hear? She wasn’t sure, but the question was too heavy and the resolve would never come.

By the time she was 16, he would be dead and gone forever.

Today, at 31, almost 16 years later, she found herself missing him…again.

The strange thing was, she hadn’t even noticed that she had stopped missing him…until she started again.

What was this about, and how dare her feelings get ahead of her and go in a direction she had not willed them? How dare they? What exactly was she supposed to do with these feelings and was it okay to miss someone you aren’t certain always missed you?

“I know he loved me.” The truth she couldn’t deny, and he wasn’t (in all fairness) completely bad. She had been fed a narrative about him that shaped the very way she saw him and his absence left for little to be fully understood.

She had so many questions now:

Did he really just stay away or was he pushed?

What was he doing and how often did he think of her?

There was always a longing that maybe he should be more in her life but she, (and apparently he) had no idea what that was.

It had to be hard…knowing you have children that you hardly see. Knowing you have children that you don’t support with your presence.

Birthdays, awards days, middle school graduations, etc., etc…

Did he simply not know about these things or did he really not care? Maybe he couldn’t see how he should?

So many questions.

Alone with her thoughts, her pen had given her relief this time around. For now anyways.

“Hm. I should write more,” she thought. “Maybe the answers to my inquiry are only a pen and a few peices of paper away…”

She sighed. Who really knew, but for now the questions would have to do.

She put down her pen and took a deep breath. She heard her baby cooing and her oldest son yelling at the TV. He was…expressive like that.

She chuckled to herself. Kids. As maddening as parenthood could sometimes be, their antics were often the very things that snatched her out of the threat of depression.

She thought once more of her father and once more felt sorry for him.

It had to be hard to never have that relief.

Felt sorry for him? Was she nuts?

Again, who knew? For now though, once again, this question, along with all her others, would simply have to do.

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