Like the cooler days of spring, Father’s Day, 2015, has come and gone. The dog days of summer, like a stubborn hound refusing a bath, have planted themselves hard upon the ground of my soul. To say the heat is oppressive is akin to labelling Mao a “little communist.” Particularly this time of year, with the monsoon season hanging pregnant in the sky, its waters about to break. It’s this time of year, with Father’s Day (and my birthday) just so recently past, that sadness overtakes my soul. I can’t help think of my dad; of what was, what is, and what will never be.
In the simplest terms–though I may have something of his face, the timbre of his voice, his light-skinned Irish complexion–I don’t know the man. Growing up, he was a poltergeist: a ghostly presence which only seemed to manifest in some kind of malevolence. When he was there, it was with a caustic word; when not, he was a cypher. I lost him to work, and to the bottle, long before he last darkened the doors of our home.
And then he was gone for good.
Only to re-emerge when, and if, it was convenient for him. Only to bring chaos into my re-ordered life. There was no balance when he was there, and there certainly was none he would either deign to visit, or when my brother and I would be made to visit him. Why? Why would we have to go, when he had so stridently declared his preference? Because when it came right down to it, he left, and moved away when his then-girlfriend was transferred out of state. Of all the things I still struggle with all these years later, it’s this; being cast asunder, left by the wayside, when something better came along.
Of the deepest soul wounds, the one which cuts the harshest is that of never being (feeling) loved by the one man who was supposed to love me. I, we–my brother, my mother–were always second choice; he came first. The distance, both emotional and physical, has colored (for good or ill) the way I view my Heavenly Father; as I view my dad, I see Him as a distant presence, uninvolved. Because I know it isn’t true, I daily fight this view.
Thing is, I don’t always know how to keep the dad out, and let the Father in. That’s a struggle, too. And if I’m feeling particularly honest, this one relationship gone around upon the rocky shoals of familial dysfunction has colored not just my relationship with Jesus, but also every other one as well; I don’t know how to let people in. Every time I’ve tried it’s ended in heartache and pain. Men’s groups have fallen in tatters around me when I’ve opened up to share my convictions. I see friends diving deep, doing life with others, and always feel like I’m left holding the bag–standing on the outside looking in.
The only thing I can conclude is that’s me; I’m hopelessly broken, doomed to merely skim through life. Not truly sharing in either the joys, or the sorrows, of the folks that always seem to mean more to me than I do to them.
Like my dad.