This morning, as I drove to work, I missed your voice. I missed your laughter. I missed your embrace.
I thought over my experience with mental illness, suicidal ideations, and loneliness, and for a moment I felt so sorry for you. Because yours must be so painful. And I thought, “How dare I?”
For a moment I considered picking up the phone and calling. How dare I? How dare I think of calling just because I want to live out some childish fantasy of a loving family? How dare I have kept you at arms’ length for so long only to miss you on a twenty-minute commute.
I imagined, for a moment, what I would do if you fell fatally ill, and I thought, “How dare I?” How dare I care that you may fall ill, after so many times of living through my own illness without you there to care? And how dare I imagine that I deserve to know what happens to you, after refusing to take so many of your calls.
It was only twenty minutes, but in those twenty minutes I sank into the abyss of the reality living life without a father. I drowned, quietly, in the knowledge that I love you. How dare I love you?
How dare I?
On the one hand, how dare I, because you don’t deserve my love. On the other hand, how dare I, because I don’t deserve yours.
It’s been many, many years. And you started it. And I hate you for it. And I wrap myself in the warm comfort of the fact that when you’ve screamed, I’ve been calm; and when you’ve threatened, I have lifted you up in prayer; and when you’ve harmed, I’ve gone silent. So much silence. Deafening silence.
How dare I?
If I know anything, I know how silence hurts more than screams. I know how silence eats away at the soul’s ability to hope. And I remember that someone once told me, early on, that I needed to be the one to love you like Jesus - with open arms - because no one else would. And if I believe that, then I’ve failed not only as a Christian and a daughter, but as a would-be pastor, and I have no business doing what I’m doing.
How dare I allow the fear of failing you to eat at me on a twenty-minute drive? How dare I allow myself to ever forget the failure?
So here I am, bleeding from all the wounds at once. The wounds of betraying the work I’ve done by allowing this turmoil to spend one minute gnawing at my conscience. The wounds of betraying everything I was hardwired to believe about who you are, and who I am, and the idea that I can save you if I just try hard enough. The wounds of trying to be like Jesus and failing no matter which side I choose.
How dare I love you? How dare I not? And how dare I talk about it here, of all places?
Oh God, help me. And there’s the thing, isn’t it? How dare I even ask?