Posts tagged “daughter

An open letter to my two year old daughter, to be read in the future

Hi Baby.

I guess this is a strange way to speak, but I can never be sure what the future holds. And I’ve been writing you letters and notes since before you were born. You’re mother has a couple. She once told me she’d protect them with her life. They were written in a place of great expectation and welcome. Maybe more is said by the little tear stains on them than anything I might have written. Those are tears of absolute fright and complete and unbridled joy. It certainly was an incredible time. Waiting for you and then getting to know you.  I had so many things to say and so much I wanted to do, there was so much I wanted to share with you.

But things changed I guess. It wasn’t very long after you came that I saw you were going to have to grow up with your mother and father apart. And for this I have and still felt so much guilt, so much remorse. I have this heavy feeling that I failed you, that I failed your mother and I did what I swore I’d never do. I swore up and down I would never have a child and raise them in a broken home. And there you are and here I am. Boy your Daddy sure blew it. sometimes the plans we make are the heaviest stones we hang about our neck. And I doubt I’ll ever feel entirely alright about the events after your birth. But I will always swear that your mother is a loving Mommy and wants only the best for you. She does a good job and should always have your respect for making choices and decisions that probably were none easier for her than they were for me when  I made my choices. Neither she or I did the easiest thing. Life just puts crossroads in front of you and you need to choose one way or a another. And this was a choice I made and the whole time I walked my path I kept an eye on the other hoping and praying that I didn’t choose wrong. I am sorry this has affected you, I never meant to set you up or to make your life harder. And if these choices did that I beg you to see how hard it was for me and that you know if there was another way I’d have done it, I would have done anything. For you, I would always do anything.

I write this to the you of tomorrows far away. So that the past has a voice just for you. I would give anything to know just who my father was when I was 2 years old. Though now a couple years after his death I sometimes wish I knew him in those last lonely hours before he left us.  It hurts to say goodbye before you’ve finished the conversation, before the road has been traveled. And I know that you feel it too. You talk about Grandpa sometimes as though he is right here. You even tell me about seeing him. Maybe that is good, it makes me feel a little better that if I can’t be there then he is. And he is watching over you. And I swear baby he loved you.He adored you and was so thrilled with you. His last words to you were “I love you baby, I’ll see you again soon.”  You’re never going to be alone. Take some comfort in that.

As for me. I go with you everywhere. You are on my mind constantly. And when my days come along for my time with you I get excited and so anxious to see you. I barely sleep the night before. It’s like Christmas every time you come see me. I never turn down a chance to be with you unless it’s nearly impossible to move mountains and stars. And the best feeling I have ever had in my whole life is that first hug you always give me. As I approach you  reach up for me and when I pick you up you wrap your arms around my neck and pull into me with all your might and all your heart and I know how much you miss me too. Because I miss you so much when you are apart from me. I feel only half awake. Like this part of me that is alive has gone to sleep. It’s only awake when you are there to shine on it. You show me things in me I have never known and never suspected even existed.

I know there’s a chance that as the years pass you’ll hear things about me. Things I wish you didn’t have to. And things that in some cases were told to hurt me and not you. So don’t let it get too deep in there. Just know the truth, for a long time I was a very lost person. I did bad things and hurt people. I was caught in a self-induced fog and lived my life like a terminal patient. I never expected to live very long and I had no reason to try. The world was a hard and cold place for me. I’ve done my wrong honey. I regret it all. I am sorry for all the hurt I caused, I am sorry to people you’ll never even know exist. But were part of my life before you. I ache in a very deep part of me for the life I lived.

I have tried very hard to change, but like any real change, it’s been hard. It’s been a little forward and then a little backward. Some days I am right back in that old skin. And I am lost again. But some days I am better. Some days I feel different. Some days I have hope, hope for me and hope for you. That is tough, I am so afraid of making any investment in dreams and the possibility of a joyful life. Because to me if you believe in hope it feels like setting myself up for disappointment. I have lost much and saw so much that has left me anxious and distant from most things that I just get to feeling that nothing ever stays, nothing ever sticks. But this is me, this is my mud puddle and I wallow in it. Don’t you ever think you need to jump on in. Or live afraid. You’re already the bravest and most courageous person I have ever known.

So here’s what you need to know about me. I love you, not just the words but with all my being. When you are with me I am filled with that love. And we dance and sing and we don’t care no nothing about what anyone thinks. When you get sleepy I still cradle you in my arms on my lap and sing quietly to you and rock you. Songs you may someday come to love yourself. When you get happy and bouncy I play with you, lifting you in the air and making you giggle. I love kissing you as I lower you down and hearing you say “Again! Again! Daddy!” as though you trust me absolutely. We roll on the floor and we go to the park. Sometimes we don’t do nothing but hang out and just be. Then when you get sleepy and grumpy I find out I have patience in me I didn’t know existed. I still have to try hard to not get frustrated. But I seldom do. And if I do I am always careful not to let myself get angry. You teach me much at these times. And then my favorite thing. I watch you sleep, you are so perfect, so beautiful and I gently touch your hair and look at your little fingers and kiss your forehead. And I let you feel me even in your sleep. I want you to know even there you are safe with me and nothing bad can come. Daddy is there and he’ll never go away.

So here we are. A father and a daughter. I know that what we have is rarer and more special than even most parents. It’s a special bond and a spiritual one. We are like two peas in a pod. And you are the best part of me. Thank you for coming to me, thank you for giving me the great honor of being your daddy.

Always Love

Daddy

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The man from Belfast sings.


“If I ventured in the slipstream
Between the viaducts of your dream
Where mobile steel rims crack
And the ditch in the back roads stop

Could you find me?
Would you kiss-a my eyes?
To lay me down in silence easy
To be born again…
To be born again

From the far side of the ocean
If I put the wheels in motion
And I stand with my arms behind me
And I’m pushin’ on the door

Could you find me?
Would you kiss-a my eyes?
To lay me down in silence easy
To be born again, to be born again

There you go standin’ with the look of avarice
Talkin’ to Huddie Ledbetter
Showin’ pictures on the wall
Whisperin’ in the hall
And pointin’ a finger at me

There you go, there you go
Standin’ in the sun darlin’
With your arms behind you
And your eyes before
There you go

Takin’ care of your boy
Seein’ that he’s got clean clothes
Puttin’ on his little red shoes
I see you know he’s got clean clothes

A puttin’ on his little red shoes
A pointin’ a finger at me
Standing in your sad arrest
Trying to do my very best

Lookin’ straight at you
Comin’ through, darlin’
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Yeah, yeah, yeah

If I ventured in the slipstream
Between the viaducts of your dreams
Where mobile steel rims crack
And the ditch in the back roads stop

Could you find me?
Would you kiss-a my eyes?
To lay me down in silence easy
To be born again, to be born again
To be born again, to be born again

In another world, darlin’
In another world
In another time
Got a home on high

Ain’t nothing but a stranger in this world
I’m nothing but a stranger in this world
I got a home on high in another land
So far away, so far away

Way up in the heaven, way up in the heaven
Way up in the heaven, way up in heaven, oh
In another time, in another place
In another time, in another place

Way up in the heaven
In another time, in another place
In another time, in another place
In another face”

– Astral Weeks by Van Morrison –

Ah man…Often I write about music here and what it means. How it feels and effects me. But Van Morrison. That’s another place to be all together. I just can’t…The words don’t work to express what he is to me. If Bob Dylan were my brain and thoughts, Steve Earle my legs and travel, Nick Cave my hands and touch then Van Morrison is my heart and spirit. I am so often reduced to this state of perfect Zen when listening to him, he takes to a place I shelter from all else. I just sort of venture into the slipstream, as Van sings. I close my eyes and it all comes. The joy, the tears and God. Love, love like a Van Morrison song is perfect an almost transcendent state.

Can you believe it’s been 41 years since Astral Weeks was released? That’s just amazing to think, an album can have the same power and effect over so much time. And the song itself. A lot of folks really like it but few really get it. What he’s doing in it and what he’s saying. You see he’s walking you through a photo album. And each line of the song (in some ways the pictures even overlap) is a description of a snap shot. A little boy, a teenager, a man discovering love, a lone soul facing into the eternal. He’s trying to let you see his life in seven minutes and six seconds. It’s such a powerful and bold thing.

A couple days ago I was talking to my friend about using music to worship and dancing in worship. Using it to connect to the greater thing…The Holy Spirit. And he was talking about Christian music and Psalms. I told him I do that with Van Morrison. He sets up a line to God himself for me, opened and receiving. That for my heart and soul Van Morrison is as powerful as a Sunday morning hymn. And just as sacred. Holy words and sounds. My friend didn’t really know his music and it was almost impossible to explain what it sounds like or feels like and I thought ‘I’ll lend him some, so he can see’ and immediately following that I was seized by a second thought ‘No way!’. See because if I let him hear it and try to see it and he didn’t like it or didn’t get it. It would be like rejecting my deepest parts. I’d be left with this sense of not being understood once again. And I wondered if being so closely connected to a guy singing songs is sane or healthy. Especially at my age. I don’t know but I am. Maybe it’s okay.

About 6 months ago my then 20 month old daughter was sitting in my lap with her head against my chest. She had her ear over my heart and could probably hear my heartbeat. The song Tupelo Honey by Van Morrison was playing and Ruby had her hand resting in the palm of mine and she was softly tapping along to the music with her fingers. So I asked her if she liked this music and she gently nodded and her eyes had that same far away look I get when I hear the music and it gets inside. She was in that place, my favorite place. It was truly a spiritual experience to share with her. Maybe it would be to share with any human but even more so with my little girl. Holy and pure.

Well there you go. There’s me for today.

Be well, be love.


Whispering in the din.

boxing

Haven’t written in a couple days. I’ve been caught in a combination of having a two-year old daughter in my care and an inability to focus my thoughts and feelings enough to write effectively. I feel like a cloud of smoke, just being pushed and moved by the wind and not having much recourse.

And underneath this all is a sadness. I want to give my child everything and I am unable to give her anything, at least in a tangible sense. I am struggling with poverty and feeling inadequate and disgusted with myself. And then beneath that is the feeling that no matter how great things are and how good a father I am, I have to give her back to her mom. And every damn time I do that it breaks my heart. It makes me cry and I can’t stand the empty rooms she leaves behind. When she is with me every room is filled with light and life. And when she goes it’s like having that all turned out. I want to never say goodbye but I do it far too often.

And sadly I am sensing a depression bout settling on me. And it’s always a fight to get out. It’s a bitch. And it drains me and eats my faith and hope. I get to dark places. And someday I feel like I may not come back. I don’t know what to do to prevent these spells, they feel inevitable. Like trying to wish away the weather. It just comes and you can’t do anything about it.

Sorry there isn’t more to say. Maybe tomorrow. Be good, be kind and be well.


She’s my shining little star.

sam cooke

– Sam Cooke –

“A truly rich man is one whose children run into his arms when his hands are empty.”  – Author Unknown –

I got my daughter this morning. And as always she quite nearly bursts from her car-seat to get out to me. She laughs and claps and announces “Daddy!” and when she is finally out of the car she reaches for my neck and wraps her little arms around me as tight as she can and then kisses me and with her eyes sparkling she says “Missed you Daddy!” and I am complete. I become what I was meant to be, by God and fate.

It’s incredible, what fatherhood does for me. Alone I am unsure and anxious and full of self-doubt, I worry about people in the streets and I am afraid of crowded places. But with Ruby beside me, her little hand in mine I am sure, confident and fully aware of who I am, I am Daddy and you cannot take anything from me and you cannot scare me and I will know not one drop of fear. Because I would fight like a lion to protect her and to show her she is always safe with me. Also by some miracle I become patient and kind, I have grace and I can always find more of myself to give. It’s such a holy experience.

I have said this before and I will probably again, my daughter gives me more than I could ever give her. In the simple act of being. I owe her my heart, soul and life for that. She makes me the man I always wanted to be.

We were out for a walk this morning. You know I often sing to her. Anything from old blues to Neil Young to folk songs and Cat Stevens. Today I was singing Sam Cooke to her as we walking and dancing along, she was trying to sing as well. Getting one word in four right. It was wonderful and it was our world. As I came back to reality I noticed a couple of old ladies watching us and smiling. And one said “You’re such a good daddy for her.” She smiled and walked on. But inside I was glowing. Because no one can say a greater compliment to me. You could heap accolades on my writing, my humor, my appearance and charm but none would make me feel as honored and touched as knowing that you can see how I try, you see that I am in it to win. I want only to be the best father the world ever has known. Nothing else I do will ever matter so much to me. And if I am doing it right then it’s very easy to see. If I am not it’s easier still. It’s sort of like driving a bus. A passenger will know a good driver and be certain of a bad one.

I got me the best little girl in the universe. She’s smart as a whip and pretty as a flower. She is clever and sweet. And boy she says the greatest things. This morning I told her I had a surprise for her and my two year old angel exclaimed “Oh my goodness!” and then as we walked to the door I said “Honey would you like your surprise first or do you want breakfast?” then she put her finger to her mouth and pursed her lips and said “Hmmmmm…I think I would like my surprise first and then a cheese sandwich.”  Ain’t she something?

And she announced in a store this morning “Daddy I would like to go pee on the toilet right now.” and I blushed. But I was so amused. She’s the greatest thing ever.

God granted me such an act of divine grace when he gave her to me and I am always grateful. As I write this she is sitting on the floor beside me playing with a puppet and putting on a puppet show for me. I am truly blessed.I am doing without so much right now, but love is not one of the things I have none of.

I know, gushing parents can be annoying. But I am not just gushing, I am redeeming. And that’s a big difference.


Telling truth and waiting naked for an echo.


“I hate graveyards and old pawn shops, for they always bring me tears, I can’t forgive the way they robbed me of my childhood souvenirs.”
-John Prine-

Parenthood was something I never really had sussed out till I was a parent. I mean as a wise old 20 something I had it expected and almost wanted. I had all my rules and lines set in store. There were things my parents done and things your parents were doing that I wasn’t going to and the things I was going to do because it just seemed like the right thing to do. So many unfounded ideas and thoughts but brother let me tell you I was sure of them. And don’t you argue me when I am sure. Because man can I speak in the definitive and I can throw in some arcane and vague fact, figure and trivia. I got me a shovel and I know how to dig down into that great big pile of bullshit I call my intellect.

But then along come August 2007, and a nurse handed me this tiny little girl we called Ruby. And boy oh boy! All that empty wisdom flew out the window. Here was the most beautiful thing I ever saw and the scariest. I remember looking at my hands as I held her and thought ‘What am I going to do? I still feel like a kid myself.’ And it was then that it all sank in. I guess I am going to do the best I can. I will do as I can whenever I could. And I am going to try to always make the best choice. I knew I already loved her, loved her like I never have loved anything before. I knew that from the moment I knew of her existence swimming around in her mommies’ tummy. That can ever be questioned. And it’s the only part of this whole crazy ride that I am absolutely sure. But all the other stuff. Man I had no clue…I was flying blind.

And as life does I got spun hard. Eleven weeks later my father died of a drug overdose and it broke it all apart. Or at least started a big crack in the foundation and the rest of the house started to come crumbling down. I was devastated. Because it seemed like things were just starting. My old man was a grandpa, something he always wanted to be. And he was already showing that he would do just fine. The last time he saw Ruby he leaned over as I held her in my arms and kissed her and said “I love you baby, I’ll see you again real soon” and I could see that the angry young man who raised me and filled me with fear, the breaking machine that drove me half insane was gone and here was just another man, an old man who’d lived too hard and was softened by it. He’d seen enough miles to know it’s a long trip to go and it wasn’t worth the pain and rage anymore. And I was so hopeful. That maybe I wouldn’t have to do this father thing all by myself and I could call him and he’d always be there and he’d laugh at the good and talk me through the hard. I could see him fussing over a pretty new dress that she was wearing and teaching her silly songs. He would take her in his lap and tickle her. It was as it should be. At least that’s what I thought.

Life being the puzzle I never could solve threw that all across time and told me it had other plans. Grandpa died, I went a little crazy and lost my way for a while. A couple hospital stays and some poor choices for myself took me out. And recovering took some time. In fact it still is taking time. My mother made some choices for herself, my brother too. And suddenly all I had known was gone. I had no real family. You ever want to know how people feel about you and how they stack up? Throw death into the mix. People just scattered. No one called, no one seemed to care and only were there when I came to them and then it felt mostly like they were responding to some obligation that remained unspoken. I don’t blame them. Who wants a hurting and grieving machine firing on two bad pistons sitting in their living room. And I felt more alone…Even more then before.

My relationship with my daughter’s mother went to hell. I became insane, possessive and panicked. I got hit by a bad case of the “hostage taker’s blues”, that’s where you take someone emotionally hostage and become so demanding and determined that it crushes the life from the relationship. And before it’s done you wonder why there’s love at all anymore. Making you even more blue than before. Ultimately it ended. I can say I take responsibility for my part in that. I do completely, I feel guilt and I feel shame and I feel hurt. I regret the hurt I caused and the shame I gave. I don’t blame her for running. Man I would maybe have run too. Maybe even sooner than she did. And so where once there was love there is now distance and contention. Grief is a bitch and it gets in everything.

I have been trying to pull an even keel and get myself together. I have searched out God. Because I know there are questions in my heart only he can answer. I got sober. See I was just like my Dad. An addict with a heart and a mind to want better. But I made a lot of really bad moves in the process. Things I may never atone for and things I owe so much in apology for. To everyone I know. And to me. I live with things I cannot forget and I fight to forgive, mostly I done to myself. I have become a Daddy on alternating weekends and agreed upon days between. I do the best I can. Just like any parent does. Or any good parent. Because more than anything else in this life, that is the definition of being a good parent. Did you do the best you could with what you had? Because I swear here and now, there is no perfect score in this dance.

But man what I wouldn’t give to turn back the clock. To when it was all still there in front of me. Back to when I took it all for granted and made myself a deserving fool. Just to sit down again and see something other than ghosts, hurt and goodbyes staring back at me. When lonely was just something I felt for an hour at a time. Back to another life I sometimes can’t remember anymore.

My father died two years ago this month. And I am scared to go outside because sometimes the weather feels just like it did the day I laid him to rest. The day it all began to come apart. Good or bad, change for the better or not…It started there. And now I live this everyday.

And I miss my old man.