This I Believe
A Child’s Heart is Fragile
My Parents divorced when I was three years old and by all accounts they had a very tumultuous relationship. My mother had custody of me and my father was granted visitation. He was very good at calling and making plans for the two of us but lacked in follow through. I have very few memories of my childhood but I distinctly remember the crushing heartache that I endured every time he didn’t show up for camping trips, fishing trips, amusement park visits……..you get the picture.
From my mother’s bedroom window I could see the road leading up to our apartment. I would spend countless hours just sitting in this window and staring, waiting with my little bag packed for my daddy to come. He never came.
At one point I realized that I had forgotten what he looked like so I created a perfect version of him in my mind. He was tall and thin, had dark hair and eyes. He had a perfect smile that lit up my soul. He was witty and funny. I loved and adored him! He drove a little blue sports car, a two-seater. I started to believe in my fantasy daddy and would keep an eye out for little blue sports cars wherever I went, carefully examining the men who drove them and longing for the day when he would put me in the passenger seat and drive off into the sunset.
Thirteen years had passed and I had a step-dad, Bobby, who filled the void to the best of his ability when Richard Gamble walked back into my life. Bobby, himself a divorcee and father of two children who lived with their mother, encouraged my relationship with Richard Gamble. He thought it was important for me to have a relationship with my father.
Richard Gamble was a stranger to me but I allowed him to teach me how to drive, to take me to dinner, to introduce me to his family, but I never allowed him access to my heart. You see he had done irreparable damage, damage that at sixteen years old makes a girl feel broken, unwanted and cast-aside. The words father, daddy, dad meant nothing to me. They were just hollow, empty words that drudged up pain and anger.
For two years I played along with the charade that was our father-daughter relationship. One night over dinner in a crowded restaurant thirteen years worth of bottled-up emotions spewed from my mouth like water from a broken pipe. I called him names. He told me I was just like my mother. I walked home crying hysterically and nauseated by the fact that I had put this man on a pedestal for years, a man who couldn’t even apologize for breaking my heart when I was just little girl.
I never saw him again. The innocent child who held out hope for reconciliation died that night along with the part of me that believed that there is good in all people.
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