This I Believe

Alyssa - Clinton Township, Michigan
Entered on December 1, 2007
Age Group: Under 18

The electrifying excitement was enough to hide the cool bite the air had. Jack-o-lanterns grinned from every porch as if mocking me as I walked home from the bus stop. It was Halloween, 2003. In a few hours I would be tugging on my itchy costume and receiving loads of free goodies from the neighbors, but the feeling was bittersweet.

I had promised myself I would make this easy for mom; it was hard enough on her. I walked in the house to find her sitting at the kitchen table wiping her red face to make sure all her tears were gone; making sure I still thought she was 100% perfectly fine, when truthfully she wasn’t. There wasn’t much I could do without falling apart but

smile at her, slam down my backpack and run upstairs where I could find sanctuary.

Shutting my door behind me I threw myself on the floor and let out the hot tears I had been waiting to spill during school. Frantically I looked for my journal that had become my greatest friend, and opened it up to the next empty page. Shakily I wrote the stale phrase: Daddy’s not coming home.

I had to be strong. Sixth grade had just started, and while most kids were worried about their locker not opening, I was worried about my family falling apart and why my dad didn’t love my mom anymore. Seeing him every other weekend and a couple hours on Wednesday nights weren’t enough. My father and I were inseparable, I was his “Polish Princess” and he never forgot to introduce me as his “little girl.” Like many things over time, I changed. I was forced to grow up. Hey, we can’t all stay kids forever.

Eventually he married the woman he left my mom for, and eventually the harder my siblings and I tried to hold onto him, the easier it seemed for him to shake us off and out of his life. A day or two after his wedding, I attempted to tell him how I felt about his marriage-as I had tried since he moved out. He swatted me away once more, as though I were as significant as a gnat, and at that moment in time I puffed out my chest and made the final decision to tell him I was done letting him walk all over me. I expected a sigh, or a few angry words to spew out of his mouth for my “disrespectful words.”

He didn’t yell, or even sigh. Instead: He calmly said “That’s your decision?” I heard the phone click silent, and I felt our relationship slip through my fingers.

Four years. Four years of tears, endless letters, and unanswered voicemails have come and gone, and dear old dad is still keeping his lips pursed, and I have stopped trying to contact him.

I learned that life is going to throw unexpected curveballs and truth be told “I love you” sometimes only lasts until tomorrow. There is a crack in my heart where daddy once was—never will it be completely healed, but friends and family help to bandage it up.

I’m human. If you cut me open I will bleed like everybody else; I feel misery as you do. I refuse to turn my back on the world and act as though the sky is about to fall, just because I’ve been hurt in the past. During some point that year after I stopped talking to my father, I realized that I have to pick up my dignity and brush off the dust. I’m going to try my hardest in everything I do and bite my tongue when distress comes nipping at my heels. I’m going to hold my head up high and go out in history with a bang to prove my father that I am something worth living for. I am not a Vietnam War victim, nor am I a 9-11 witness, or a survivor of cancer. I am only a fifteen year old girl trying to make her way through high school and succeed in everything I do, but if there’s one thing I am certain about in this life it is that I don’t need to be any of those—I already have courage.