Have you ever gone an extended amount of time without seeing someone? Maybe they live far away and all you do is talk with them on the phone, maybe they are distant relatives and you see them once or twice a year, or maybe you haven’t seen someone because you grew apart, one upset at the other; and your hurt too much by their words and actions, or maybe you both decided it is better to go your separate ways.
Yesterday I went to my dad’s shop. I drove into the parking lot and his truck was parked in the back. The previous three times I had gone there in the past 9 months, he wasn’t there. His lot was empty, his shop closed, and my heart still broken. We haven’t seen eye to eye for quite some time. My decisions don’t exactly measure up to his plans for me. He couldn’t understand my logic or my life’s path. So, there was silence. A long silence. And a distance grew between us even though we were only 20 miles apart. So I would take out a piece of paper, write a note on it, “Dad, I miss you. I love you. Wish you were here so I could say hi.” I taped it to his front door, sat in my car for a few minutes, cried, and then drove away.
During those months of silence my heart ached. It ached out of loneliness and sadness. It ached for losing my father, for thinking I wouldn’t hear his voice again and see his face, or feel his skin on my skin. It’s a devastating thing, to have family torn apart, ripped at the seams that once were sewn in place so carefully. With my little sister across the world and speaking badly about me, my older sister second guessing my decisions, and my dad upset with me, it left my mom in the middle. By no means was she happy with my decisions, but nonetheless we tried to remain somewhat in touch, somewhat civil. I’m sure some will ask why? Well, because, we are family and there is love between us, and when nobody else talked to me, I tried to mend things with my mom.
I remember there were times I cried, I sobbed, I couldn’t control my emotions, and the tears just poured out of my eyes. I couldn’t stop the pain and hurt that I felt inside and I wondered how could I go on without speaking to my parents.
But on this day, my dad’s truck was there. Part of me was nervous, and excited, and part of me fearful. It had been 9 months since I saw him and now was the moment I had been hoping and waiting for. I knocked on the front door of his shop, my heart pounding. I put my forehead onto the glass and peered in, I saw him walking towards me. He unlocked the door and opened it. We both smiled at each other. Father and daughter face to face. I looked at him, his face old, tired, thin, his hair gray, he seemed to have shrunk, I was just about as tall as he was now, his back hunched over slightly, and his belt seemed to hug his body tighter. I was certain he had lost weight. Time doesn’t stop when you grow distant, it keeps going, people get older. Faces change and age is more easily seen. He will be 68 next month and after months of not seeing him, he is looking like an old man.
I said, it’s good to see you. He said it’s good to see you too. As he started to talk about his work and walk into the shop, I asked, can I give you a hug? He paused, turned to me and we embraced. It was short hug, he patted my back and let go, that sort of hug was not unusual for him. But then I said, a longer hug, please. I held on tightly to him, my arms wrapped around his body, not wanting him to go. After a moment, he softened, and we hugged, for real. He started to tear up, as did I. I whispered I love you and I have missed you in his ear, and he said I love you too. As the hug finished we stepped back from each other, I looked at him, and couldn’t believe how much time I have lost because of not seeing him. But on this day, I was grateful for him, for the time together, and for being near him.