My father died when I was five, except I didn’t know it until I was nine. So, it felt like he died twice.
Mom didn’t tell me and my sister so she would spare us the pain, but it just made it worse. The wound stayed alive and well. Although I understand now she didn’t mean any harm, it was wrong.
That decision marked my life, and I punished her with a fractured trust for an entire lifetime. That was wrong, too. I wish I could change that. I can’t though.
The pain caused by not knowing what one is entitled to know, to not exercise the right of living whatever we are meant to live through is worse than any acid truth.
I learned from that early age that lies are lies—not white, partial or compassionate. They are just lies. I decided to always speak the truth and be willing to hear the truth, to always be a safe territory for the people I love to express theirs, too.
I have paid a high price for that. However, I embrace that part of me with immeasurable force—maybe it’s the only one I really do. Interestingly enough, many years later when I was deciding which university to attend I chose the one whose slogan was “Truth will make you free.”
Mom told us they had gotten a divorce and he had left. I had a kid´s calendar behind my bedroom door where I put stickers to mark special days. I marked each day he was gone, expecting that would be the one on which he’d come back or call.
I did that for months and months until I ran out of stickers, and tears and hope. Being an eloquent and pretty outspoken pain in the ass since early age, I confronted my mom many times with a million questions.
I just wanted that sorrow, that loneliness and that feeling of having been left, discarded and forgotten to make some sense.
I never got much except for, “He’s gone.” Other stories in my adult life kept reaffirming the horrendous lie I told myself. The lie that I was the cause, that I was unworthy even for a proper good bye, that I was abandonable (if the terms even exists, it does in my head).
As a child I never made a drama about not having a dad, I actually made jokes about it. When I got sent to the principal’s office at school and she told me she was going to call my dad I’d reply, “Good luck with that!” I don’t even remember actually being aware of missing him. But, I grew up often wondering how it would feel to have one, to go for walks with him, to ask him for advice, to trust a man. When some jack ass in college would treat me wrong, I thought, “If I had a dad you would not get away with this, you moron!”
My mom was an intelligent, hard working, resourceful and attractive woman. She had the best hair, the sexiest kind of masculine voice and gorgeous legs. And, a strong temper, oh lord. She had a few boyfriends here and there, and even though some were pretty ok, they were not dad material.
I was honestly open to the idea, but nah! Candidates were all pepper less, to my taste. She eventually remarried a wonderful man who turned out to be a great husband. He outlived her (my respects to him, my mom was not an easy person to live with), but still not enough “checked” for him to be a dad.
During my last relationship, with a very good man by the way, I had the privilege to meet his dad. I met the whole family during a difficult time, his mom had just passed. I happened to be visiting when a mass, lunch and a visit to the cemetery were planned for the day. I gracefully joined.
Once in the cemetery, my partner and his sister walked a bit ahead of us. Dad is getting old, his steps are slower, but his touch is warm, his eyes are calm and his wrinkles are perfectly drawn. He’s funny, as well.
We walked and talked. He supported some of his weight on my arm, and I shared some very private stuff. He did, too. And suddenly there I was—I heard a bell in my heart, I really did. Finally, for the first time in my life I felt the, “What if? What if this is it?”
I was having a dad and sharing, and trusting and feeling the love I never had before. That walk healed my wound totally—not even a scar is left.
So yes, in the end my father died twice, but he also lived twice.
Maru Garcia was born in Mexico City, raised by an angel dressed as a warrior. As a kid, she wanted to be invisible when she grew up or become a contortionist so she could fit silently in little spaces. She has a degree in Nutrition and Food Science and believes in veganism as a living statement of love. She is a very imperfect yogi, loves animals more than anything in the whole wide world, and is a strong advocate for animals´right to just be animals. There is often a dog, a kitten or a palm tree hidden in her purse on the way to safety. She often gets in trouble for saying exactly what she thinks and feels, no editing, that is her trademark. Her world tends to be often black or white, gray disorients her. She is in love. She lives in Playa del Carmen with her three dogs, two birds and one cat. She does not know yet how come or why she writes.
Editor: Sara McKeown