goodbye again

Mar 21, 2014

The tears poured out of my soul as I watched him drive away this morning. I don’t know if I can let myself feel this much pain without breaking into a million pieces.

I remember the first time he left when I was 12. I chased after him and begged him to let me come with him. I collapsed in a heap of frustration, tears, and a broken heart when he refused and made me stay in Wyoming while he drove across the country to start a new life in a place I had never been.

I kind of felt the same way today – an urge to chase after him, a deep longing for my daddy to never, ever leave me again.

But he drove off anyway, to a life I am not a part of. And I can’t stop crying at the pain, the little girl pain and the grown-up woman pain all mixed together in one big torrent of tears.

It all started three weeks ago when he called and said he was going to come visit us on his way back from a cross-country goose delivery to California. He made this same trip in January 2009 and visited us then as well, meeting our children for the first time. Last Wednesday, he called and said he was on I-80 traveling across Wyoming. When we hung up, a voice whispered to my mind, “Call him back, see if he can wait for you in SLC, and let you ride with him to California.” I quickly dismissed the idea as ludicrous. First, how would my body handle being in a vehicle for that many miles and hours. Second, what on earth would we talk about? We have only seen each other eight times in the past 28 years and one time in the past 18 years…that 2009 visit. Third, what would happen if I pass out or start shaking or my hip dislocates. Fourth, what would my family do without me for several days? Fifth, what if he doesn’t want to be with me? All these questions and many more swirled through my head and heart. I decided it was a completely ridiculous idea, but the thought wouldn’t leave my head so I finally called Richard to talk to him about it, fully expecting him to agree with my assessment of the California road trip idea. But he didn’t. He thought it was brilliant and we should do whatever it took to make it happen.

After several more phone calls to various people I was sure would talk some sense into me, I freaked out, calmed down, and finally called my dad and asked him I could join him on his drive to deliver the geese. He seemed tickled pink and we made all the arrangements to make sure his truck would work for my body.

Bright and early the next morning, Sheri picked me up, took me to physical therapy, and drove me down to SLC to start the adventure of a lifetime. The last time I was with my dad in a one-on-one situation was 1986 when I was 12 years old. I didn’t know what to expect and I was scared and overwhelmed, but also determined to find the courage to do hard things and follow the prompting I received to go with him.

We had a wonderful time. I got to see beautiful country I have never seen before, hear all about my dad’s current life with his horses, and a little bit about his growing up life with his family. I was given a better picture of who he is, what he has been through, and what makes him the man he is. We laughed and cried and got to know each other again.

It was a gift wrapped up for me from my Heavenly Father. Three whole days with the man my world revolved around when I was little. Three whole days of connection and healing and understanding. I will treasure those three days for the rest of my life.

Then we came home and spent the past five days here with my family, playing games, eating ice cream, lots of talking, and helping my children get to know their grandfather. I’m sure the chaos of busy family life was a little much for him, but he handled it really well and spent most of his time chuckling at their individual personalities. He also became my personal handyman and went to work repairing a few of the many broken things in this house.

First he tackled the dryer that stopped heating recently. Yippee for laundry capabilities at home – no more sending Blythe to the laundromat or Kat sneaking in to take my laundry over to her house to do! Then the garbage disposal was replaced and the electrical switch repaired. Third, he fixed my poor screen door that has been hanging skeewampus and missing a screen for quite some time. I had no idea the local hardware store could replace the screening material and would do so for sixteen bucks. He even rearranged the panes so the screen section is on top and the glass is in the middle – that way the cats can’t rip the screening again. He replaced the door insulation strip so we don’t have cold air blowing in or heat leaving. (FYI, it’s not that Richard can’t do these things, he can…he just doesn’t have the time to get to all the things that need fixed.)

I have gone to bed every night with tears on my cheeks. Tears of sadness and tears of joy. It is wonderfully, fiercely hard to open my heart to all the emotions of my little girl self whose heart closed up the day he left us back in 1986. My entire being feels raw, but it is a good raw, a thawing that needs to occur to find the healing I so desperately need.

And now he is gone again. And I will cry some more and bury myself in Richard’s soft chest and warm arms and hope to see him again someday.

Goodbye Dad, I hope its not such a long time before I see you again. Every girl needs a dad.

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  1. Melissa

    Oh man Tracy, this made me cry. Happy Tears! What a wonderful time and I’m so glad you were able to go with him to California! Simply a miracle! So happy for you!

    • tracy

      Melissa, love you…thank you for listening.

  2. Charlene

    That was brave, truly brave and I’m so glad you had a good time with him. Healing hurts sometimes, but it is such a gift, especially when it is the big hurts that are getting healed.

    • tracy

      Oh Charlene, thank you for your encouraging words. I felt truly brave…just missing the superhero cape!

  3. Tasha L.

    Amazing – The whole experience. I’m so glad that you got to spend time with him, and also so sad that you haven’t been able to have him in your life. You are such a neat person!