Friday, May 28, 2010

Learning to Breath

Below is my blog post from today....I am always so honored when they publish something I have poured my heart into...

When life gives you lemons make lemonade. If He brings you to it, He will bring you thru it. God does not give you more than you can handle …

I have always wondered if these sayings were true. What made God think I could deal with all that He’d put on me? As the story goes I was the product of two rebellious people head over heels in ‘love’ … But I was very young when I remember my mother and father arguing in front of me. I recall crying and reaching out to my mom. At some point he left. It makes me wonder if life was like a scene out of MTV’s “16 & Pregnant”. (I have to admit while home in bed with the flu recently I was introduced to that show. Can we say DRAMA!!) My mom was living in an apartment on her own, with a new baby and a job at the ripe old age of 18.

Over the next year she found church, God and a nice young man. That man fell in love with me – and looking at my own absolutely adorable almost 2 year old child, I have to ask, who wouldn’t fall in love with such sweetness toddling around all the time? And he fell in love with my sweet mom. The next year they were married. My new Parents. At this point my biological father was no longer around. I always knew where I really came from. I knew my new dad was not my real dad, but he was MY dad. I was special he would say because I was chosen. The word Step was never used in our house! My childhood was stable, pretty normal, nurturing, focused on education, church, discipline and loving those around me. The next year I had a baby sister, then 5 years later, another sister, and almost 2 years later another sister and almost 2 more years later …

I was 10 sitting at the kitchen table eating eggs when my mom said, ”Guess what? We’re going to have another baby.” I dropped my fork & rolled my eyes in that way all pre-teen girls know how to do so well. “Really?!”

Right after Christmas that year, my mom asked if I had any interest in meeting my biological dad. I was curious so I said yes. She told me to write a letter to him and she would mail it. Until this point there hadn’t been any communication with him or his family in years. I decided to write the letter and at the beginning of March 1984, he came to the house and met me and my family. My real dad, the dad of my heart, chose to stay in the house on the couch during this reunion. Someone snapped photos of this day. Over the years the only photo I remember seeing was the one of my dad sitting on the couch, watching TV, & eating some vanilla wafers. The picture is still stuck in my mind. There was such deep sadness on his face which later caused me much guilt. I felt that I had betrayed him somehow. Two weeks later he threw me an amazing 11th birthday party. It was my first big slumber party, my new cousins and new step-sisters I had just met through my biological dad were invited to join my friends and sisters and me! I still remember how much fun we had that night.
But just 10 days later on a Monday night I woke to hearing my mom screaming my name. I jumped out of bed, ran into her room. I kind of expected my parents to be arguing … something they had done a lot of since the whole meeting the biological dad thing had come up … But instead I saw my pregnant mom standing over my dad doing CPR. She yelled at me to call an ambulance. Mind you, this was prior to 911. I sat there staring at the phone for what seemed like hours but was in reality only seconds. She called out and asked me what I was doing. I said desperately, “I don’t know what to dial!” She had me switch places with her. It was then, standing over my dad I saw him breathe his last breath. I lost part of my own breath that day.

Fast forward a few years. My biological father, George was in and out of my life, promising things and delivering more brokenness to my sad little heart. By age 18 he was out of my life for ‘good’ and this time by my own decision. Several years later my new boyfriend (soon to be husband) encouraged me to reach out, offer forgiveness, and show him a heart of love. And I did. Wholeheartedly I did. And for several years it worked. But my father’s tormented soul was always catching up with him no matter where he was or what he did. There were always collect calls requesting I bail him out of jail, hospital calls begging me to come visit because he was ‘sure’ he was dying. The emotional rollercoaster was exhausting.

He called a month or so after my oldest was born in 2005. This was the most sober he had sounded in years. He wanted to just talk. Very guarded, I chatted with him for about 15 minutes. He asked if I was pregnant yet. I simply answered, “No.” As a brand new mommy I felt the sudden urge to protect this tiny being curled up in my arms while I spoke to this stranger that shared DNA with us. I told myself I had not lied because I was not currently pregnant. I struggled with not telling him he was finally a grandfather for a long time. I prayed and prayed about that, justifying myself to God until I finally realized HE was not judging me. I got one more jail call after that. Then NOTHING. Until the call came 4 weeks before my youngest was born, Spring of 2008. For years I had been waiting for the call telling me my father had died. Sometimes I wonder what that says about me as a person. This was not that call.

He had been admitted to Harris downtown after he was found unconscious on a sidewalk. Once they found out who he was they began tracing his next of kin. Somehow my name was it. My uncle met me down there. They wanted me to sign him over to a mental hospital. Later I found out he had been institutionalize when I was younger … explaining at least one of his disappearing acts. I knew that I could not walk away. I could not turn my back on him in this moment. I agreed to take over conservatorship of his care. Then they asked if I wanted to see him. I walked down that long hall, praying for strength the whole way. I walked in alone and saw this shell of a man I barely recognized. Gone was the sleek hair, the tan face, the eyes that mirrored my own and that charming smile. Instead lying in that bed was a small, frail, grey haired, aged older than his days, dying man. I could not make myself wake him. I spent a few minutes watching him and I left. He never knew I was there. That was the last time I saw my father. Once he was sober and all drugs out of his system, he was deemed well enough to sign himself out. I did not hear anything else for months.

Then that last hospital call begging me to come visit again. I didn’t go. Begging me to bring the children he now knew I had to meet him. I didn’t take them. I was overcome with that same raging sense of protection for my children that screamed inside me, “He will NOT hurt or manipulate my children.”
I needed to let go. I felt like I was suffocating. I prayed for peace for him and for myself. I prayed for his forgiveness and for my ability to forgive ALL of it. Then I sat down and wrote him a long letter telling him I really did forgive him, I truly felt that God had a purpose for his life and I felt like that it was to know that no matter what we do, where we are God is always there for us. I told him I did love him, I understood he had done all he could for me, I appreciated our times together when I was younger and I would raise his grandsons to be strong men he would be proud of and again, that I loved him and had no hard feelings against him for the past. I knew that I am who I am today because he was my father. I included photos of the boys and myself.

At his funeral the next month, I was sad for his death, sad that his life had been so difficult, sad that my grief was not as profound as when the dad of my heart had died 25 years earlier. Then I realized I had been grieving the loss of my “Real Father” since I was a baby and now I could let go. I could let go because I had found an even more REAL FATHER, in Jesus Christ. A Real Father who takes all that pain away, all that guilt away and makes me whole.
And now I can breathe a little deeper …

1 comment:

Des said...

this is beautiful. really.