Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Talking Is Overrated.

When what you have to say to someone is simultaneously everything and nothing at all, sometimes the best course of action is to avoid the person altogether.

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At least half a dozen wedding responses were waiting for me when I checked the mail. I flipped through them, stopping on one with no return address. I opened that one first, anticipation coursing through my fingers, only to find an X was placed next to Will Not Attend and the bottom was signed "Dad and Dolores."

I turned the card over, looking for a note, an explanation, an apology, but there was none. The envelope held nothing further. I fumbled for my house key, desperate to get inside. I knew they didn't have another commitment. I knew they just didn't want to be at my wedding.

I tossed the other responses onto the kitchen table with the rest of the mail and headed into the bedroom to find my phone book. His number and address were listed formally by last name-comma-first, giving no indication to an outsider that he was anything more to me than the neighbor whose information was on another page.

The distance between us had been considerable, having only connected intermittently over many years of estrangement. This last time he sought me out because he had done the math and deduced that at twenty-four I must have been out of college thus ending his responsibility to pay child support. My mother had never notified the probation office and had continued cashing his monthly $25 checks firmly believing he owed her so much more than that. Much to my mother's dismay, I agreed to write a letter affirming my graduation and the cessation of his obligation.

After that call, we spoke a few more times. I told him about my life. I thought he was happy for me.

When I included him on the guest list, I imagined he'd walk into the wedding hall and I could tell my friends, "Look! That's my dad!" I pictured him hugging me and telling me I looked beautiful. I thought maybe he might dance with me.

I pictured him showing a friend the photo from the thank you card I would send him and saying with pride, "My baby got married and the wedding was wonderful!"

My stepmother answered the phone and curtly told me to hold on. When he got on the line, I told him I received his response.

I assured him no one would enforce the fifteen year old restraining order. I told him he could sit with my future in-laws or, if he'd prefer, near a wall since I knew his time in Vietnam left him uneasy in an open room. I told him I'd sit him anywhere he wanted if only he'd reconsider.

"I can't do it, Babe. I just can't. I hope you understand," he said flatly.

I bit the inside of my cheek. "I don't," I said, hoping he didn't hear my voice crack.

He finally broke the silence, "Will I ever hear from you again?"

"I don't know."

I hung up, honestly not knowing the answer to his question.

 
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42 comments:

  1. Heartbreaking. Its a real loss...of what things were supposed to be like. Im sorry. The way its written he sounds sad about his inability to tolerate the event but it doesn't make it less painful.

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    1. I think he really is a very sad man. It's a shame he couldn't find a way to deal with that so he could get back to living.
      Thanks for reading!

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  2. Wow, Michelle. You captured so much, with so few words. I really like how you told the story so honestly and without demonizing your father. I also like how you ended this. It's a very well-written piece.

    I can very much relate to this experience - neither of my parents came to my first wedding, and I didn't invite them to my second. This is a heart-breaking story to tell, and you did it amazingly well.

    Karen

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    1. I'm sorry that you can relate. It's a tough one for sure.
      He's not a bad man, just a sick and sad one. I wish he could be happy and find peace.

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  3. Oh my gosh. This is so powerful, Michelle. So much emotion captured in such a short space. You render your feelings in a way that I feel them for you.

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  4. Ouchie. The language you use here is so simple, it makes the sadness and the power of your story so much greater. I am so sorry that this happened to you.

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  5. I have read many of your posts and remember ones about your dad when you were little...a summer themed story about grilling and water from the hose. Now I feel the need to scour the rest of your blog for what happened in between. Is it there somewhere? right. your. memoir. :)

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    1. There aren't actually that many about him in here. I find my relationship with my father much more difficult to write about than most subjects. He's in the memoir though, so if you can hold out for that...

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  6. There are so many little details in this that peeks at the entire back story. Well done. And so very sad.

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    1. Thank you so much. There's far too much story to tell in one post (or 100), so I'm glad the little snapshots came through.

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  7. This makes me very sad for you. this was perfectly told-simple, direct & heartbreaking.

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    1. Thanks Robbie. I try hard to forgive and move past it. That's why I had to write about it.

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  8. Michelle, this is an achingly beautiful piece. I'm sad for you and for him.

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  9. Ouch. Beautifully done, but it made my heart hurt for you :(

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  10. Michelle, I so wish this hadn't happened to you. This is so beautifully written. Those first lines so resonated with me.

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    1. Thank you. I wish things had happened differently and I could have written a happier story.

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  11. This post is such a container for sadness.

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  12. I started out reading this being angry at your dad. By the end, I was just sad.

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  13. I always wondered what his story was. Sad indeed. I am sure he had wounds and all that, but to miss out on you, well that's tragic.

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    1. His story (or at least my version of it) will come out. I find it much harder to write for some reason.

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  14. Wow, how heart-wrenching. So well written. I wish I had your gift for putting so much power into so few words.

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  15. Great writing, you got me involved and feeling your pain. It's hard to understand the decisions people make. How long ago was that? What's happened since then?

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    1. This happened about 12 years ago. We've gone back and forth over the years since, but we haven't spoken in about 3 years now.
      Thanks for the kind words.

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  16. I'm with Stacie about your power packed words. Simply written somewhat disguising the true angst and emotions. He missed out. This is so sad. I'm sorry.

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    1. Thanks Gina. "Somewhat" being the operative word, right? :)

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  17. This is heartbreaking, I'm so sorry. My (now ex-) step-dad didn't show up to my wedding either. He said he'd come but he just never showed. It's hard, I feel you!

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  18. Thanks Janelle. I'm sorry about your step-dad. I can only imagine the disappointment when he didn't show.

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  19. Emotions are tough to deal with. Weddings are crucibles of emotions -- even the most casual weddings. I would share a similar but different experience, but I'm not ready to burn bridges quite yet.

    I'm glad you're able to write about these things. And I'm glad I finally had time and the wherewithal to travel through cyberspace to read it!

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    1. Unfortunately we are at a point, my father and I, that the bridge is beyond repair. So I decided to tell my stories and if they get back to him, so be it. But I doubt they will.

      Thanks for your willingness to travel through cyberspace to see me!

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