For my daughter because through her pain~I was forced to deal with my own.
You cry on Sunday nights while lying in your bed. Sleep invites, but heartache overwhelms you. “Mommy, I need you,” you call from your room. Heavy hearted, I respond to your plea. I come in and sit down on the edge of your bed. “Tell me about your weekend,” I bravely say. I have come to expect an unchanging story. A typical weekend filled with adventures, hugs, surprises…but as we close the day with a gentle prayer, the longing for your father overwhelms your tiny heart. Pausing briefly I recall a similar memory of my own father. My thoughts paralyze the moment.
Not in frame
Towering over me
At the strength
Of his voice
Of his temper
What his mood would bring
Weekend transitions are a monster too difficult for you to manage on your own. Moments together are everything you need but the return home, leaving his presence, feels less than ordinary. In this confusion you ask, “Can I call daddy and make sure he is okay?” I respond in the way any good mother would, “Yes~of course you can.” As the words leave my lips, thoughts of my own dad roll in.
Side stepping from his house to mine forces you to entertain many emotions. Though you don’t say this, your eyes~welling up with tears~resonate the concerns of your heart: anxiety that the next visit won’t come, fear that one day his love for you might totally run dry, and sadness that this night will once again end with you in a home without him.
“Mommy I miss daddy so much,” you whisper.
“I know baby,” is all I can think to say.
The subdued pain of abandonment is experienced anew. As he turns to leave, his absence heightens in your little heart and mind. Each drop off serves a strong dose (even as if experienced for the first time) of an unpredictable, unwanted reality for you.
As I kiss your forehead and brush away your golden locks, I watch the tempest rise. There are no shelved books written specifically for this moment…for this language. Though the crashing sounds within your heart are nearly audible, the dialect is foreign, mysterious to my ears.
“I just want daddy”, you say holding back the tears.
Fighting the talons of temptation, I contemplate a variety of selfish responses. “I know baby” is all that seeps from my lips. Quietly, I recall how deeply I desired attention from my own father. That longing, God-given, to be loved and protected. To be valued and delighted in. My heart grows heavier as I join you in the place of your longing.
Attempting to navigate the waves of your emotions~I embrace you again and reassure you of my love. With this touch the tears that have filled your eyes stream down your face and this all too familiar storm rages again.
You cry. While you cry, I cry with you and also for you. I muster all the strength I have, gently cradle you in my arms, and console you. I reach to God, trusting that the water from your tears-like the downpour of rain-will wash the pain from your tender heart. “I love you baby girl” I whisper as I lay you back on your bed. “God please take her pain away,” I plead as I predict the many storms that lie ahead in the wake of his absence.
You are not
Living in the presence
Of an absent father
~Though my children have grown since the origin of this story, one thing remains true…God intended for our fathers to provide for us, protect us, and call out our identity in Christ. If that didn’t happen for you, as it didn’t happen for me, we still have hope. God, our Father, delights in our presence. He has promised to never leave or abandon us. He is capable of healing the wounds of our past hopes and shattered dreams. His nature is to cradle us in His arms, where we find the safety to articulate our hurts, and whisper in our ear, “I know that hurt, child. But I have come so that by my wounds you would receive healing.”
That’s the Hope I profess…that He who promised is faithful…and I’m holding on to that for me and for my children.
3 thoughts on “The Presence of Absence”
WOW, deep breath. My heart breaks with yours. I understand too well this familiar pain. But, also, hold true of the promises of our Heavenly Father. Beautifully said my friend.