I got kind of an emotional slap in the face this morning. I woke up plenty early; early enough to go to class. But for some reason I didn’t feel like it. Senioritis is definitely setting in right about now. I think it’s even worse since I’m technically a “super senior”; it’s as if I saved up all the lethargy and procrastination until this term. At any rate, I knew Fresh Prince of Bel-Air would be on at 10, so around 10:15, I threw on some clothes, started some coffee and sat down to watch. In a matter of ten minutes I was weeping.
It was another father episode; Will finally saw his dad again and wanted to leave with him for the summer. But, as he had done before, Will’s father let him down. Uncle Phil had been arguing with Will’s dad about abandoning him again and how Will was going to feel crushed at the news. Will’s dad didn’t even have the courage to tell Will himself, but he eventually ended up doing so – Will just happened to walk in just as his dad was walking out. Anyhow, after Will’s dad turned around and left for good, Phil tried to comfort him.
“Will, it’s okay to be mad.”
But Will tried to play it off as if it wasn’t a big deal. Little by little, you could see the emotions within him begin to stir. I almost started hyperventilating. No, I don’t know what it’s like to meet my dad and get let down by him again. But I recognize Will’s mixed emotions and how he tried to mask it all. I’ve paced around my room trying to convince myself that it was okay for my father to choose another life besides me; that there was nothing wrong with him leaving before I was born; and that there was never any pain from him. It’s like trying to tell the doctor that the stab wound in the middle of your chest isn’t really there.
“I don’t need him! To hell with him!” Will then yelled in anger. A moment later, he broke down weeping, “Why doesn’t he want me? Why?… Why?” I lost it.
I’m at a point in my life where guidance is scarce. In hanging out with many other college students my age, I realize I’m not alone. But yet, because my dad wasn’t ever there, I feel as if there is a source of guidance that everyone else has but me. I feel like I’m going to receive my diploma, move out of my apartment, and then fall apart in the “real world” because my dad was never there to get my head straight.
My fatherless wound was ripped open in a matter of ten minutes this morning. And the one thing I immediately realized after my tears had dried was that this isn’t going to be the last time, either. I’m going to have these moments where I break down weeping simply because I’m venturing into uncharted territory; I’m arriving to a place physically, spiritually, and emotionally that I don’t know how to handle. I don’t know when these moments will hit exactly, but I have a good idea; my wedding, the birth of my first child, struggles with raising my children, and then sending my own kids off to college. I’m pretty sure those will be break down moments because I never had that fatherly voice grounding me in wisdom so well that when the storms rage, I’d keep my cool and bear it.
I’m at a point in my life where I won’t have anyone holding my hand to cross the street or wrapping me up in his arms when a storm thunders and roars through town. Not knowing my next step in life is one thing; not having anyone to keep me secure until I figure it out is entirely another.
The harsh reality that guys like Will and I have to face is that our dads are never going to be the dads we want them to be. Sure they could change; but we can’t waste our time holding our breath. We have to sit there and watch them walk out of our lives and learn to completely let go. And the only positive thing guys like Will and I have are the guys like Uncle Phil; the guys who father children who aren’t their own in order to give them a fighting chance at this life – guys like Duane Howard Cushman (my grandpa).
And yet I’ve found more than any father could offer: God. In the deepest of ways, God has been slowly but surely working on the fatherless wound in me; something that no one person could ever really do. God brought together a bunch of different guys to help keep me from following the path of my dad. I would not be here without them. But even with the mentors I’ve had, I’m still in uncharted territory; I’m still the one who has to call his own plays as he goes. No one else is going to do it for me.
Unlike Will in Fresh Prince, though, I will probably never meet my biological father. Accepting that fact at face-value was easy. It was like telling myself that I will never meet Santa Claus. But accepting that fact when I go through each major step in life will not be so easy. And whether I like it or not, I have to embrace the difficulty.