Since the first day she spoke the words my daddy, I have been explaining to her who he was, the man I married. Yet by the time those words so innocently rolled off of her tongue that man was long gone and we were divorced.
As the years passed the questions about her daddy kept coming and my answers more expanded. I chose to never speak of her dad in a demeaning, hurtful way, instead telling her of the funny, smart and handsome navy man that swept me off my feet, proposed on the dock after a stint at sea, my dream man in uniform with the most incredible smile I'd ever seen. The "why" of our not being together anymore would come later.
By the time she was ten she had spent very little time with him, especially unsupervised. He had seen her grow up mostly in pictures. Those days she did spend with him revealed to her a man that was her dad, but not the man I married. The questions about his lifestyle and irrational behavior became more frequent. Looking into her precious face and sea green eyes, my answers became more difficult to speak over the lump in my throat.
By the time she was thirteen his broken promises, poor choices and domestically violent relationships made it impossible to continue to hide the truth about her dad. It was time to tell her that when his father died of cancer, her dad slipped into a prescription drug induced state to numb his own pain, lost his career as a respiratory therapist and pilot, began doing street drugs and walked out on his family when she was just a few months old. He has been a drug addict ever since.
At age fourteen, we openly and honestly talk about her dad. She still asks questions about who he was before, wants to hear stories about our wedding, camping in the desert, and his sense of humor and barbequing skills, one of his favorite things to do. Yes, it is nice to remember him like that and for her to know that the man she knows today as her dad isn't the man he has always been. We talk about him loving her as much as he is capable of; her understanding that his choices have nothing to do with her; and how much care about him still. Those conversations with her are tough ones, but necessary and for us it brings a special closeness I cherish.
The other night she walked down the stairs in her robe with a towel on her head holding a white piece of paper. I could tell by the look on her face it was important. She sat next to me and said, "Mommy, I got out of the shower and had to write something that is in my head down on paper. Do you want me to read it to you?"
"Of course baby." Was all I said. What came out of her next stung me in the deepest core of my heart.
I am a girl with a dream, a dream that might never come true. My dream is to know my dad, I mean my real dad, the dad that everyone knows and cares about. I never got to see that dad or even meet him. The dad I have known all my life is not real. He is fake and what I want to know is what happened to my dad? Who took my dad? Well, I know what took Jeffrey Scott away: drugs took him and I want him back. Everybody wants him back. That is my dream, which may never come true.
After reading it she began to cry. So did I. I knew it was time for a magic cup of hot chocolate with French vanilla and cinnamon just the way she likes it. We talked about the power of writing down your feelings and getting it out so it doesn't stay inside of you. How setting it free really is God's way of helping us to heal and grow. We talked about her dad and a wonderful lesson his mom taught me a few months ago: how on the days that is is having a "good day" we get a glimpse of the man I married, the man that is her dad, like on her birthday this year when he took us to the water park and had the best daddy/daughter day of her life with him. We talked about not having expectations of him calling when he says he will, showing up when he says he will because, although he may have every intention of doing so, he loses track of complete days. On those days, those very special days when he is able to be present, even if just for a few hours, those are moments to be cherished that are filled with laughter and love.
Than we talked about how drugs ruin families, lives, hopes and dreams. She vows to never do drugs because of who her dad has become. Sometimes the blessings, lessons shared and meanings on life's path come to light on the couch holding a cup of hot homemade french vanilla coco as a piece of white paper on the table shines with the scribbled, heart-felt words of a fourteen year old girl with a dream.