I always wanted to be a Daddy’s girl. I felt like my duty as the youngest girl to a man with no sons was to be the legacy carrier every man desired. To give him someone he would be proud to allow to carry his name. At first I was. I remember sitting on my daddy’s lap at five or six years old hoping that the New York Giants would score a touchdown so he would excitedly throw me in the air as celebration. I remember he would watch me out run all the boys on our street knowing that I was a sports star in the making. When I got back to the house after my street race, he would pat me gently on the back and smile at the other dads on the street giving them silent shade that his daughter was faster than their sons. As many of you know…that didn’t happen.
After my parents divorce, my dad became a season. My life went winter, spring, summer, dad, fall, winter, spring… I knew it wasn’t normal but it was all I had and for awhile I resented him for that. I resented that he made a choice not to be a constant in my life. I resented that I felt like a second option to him.
Oddly enough, on the day he died, my first thought was that of him on the couch patiently analyzing every player on the screen. Coaching to athletes that couldn’t hear him. My first thought was I wish he had more time. I know he could’ve gone back and been that man if he just had more time.
See, like many, I’ve been groomed to believe that time heals all. That giving a situation space will provide healing. WRONG! That is an urban myth that I wish we would stop using as medicine for wounds you cannot see. Time does not heal all, time gives you an opportunity to create a narrative that fits your pain level. Space gives you a chance to find a way to forget the things you remember. Time and space create a coping mechanism for the hard truths of life. We all claim we want truth then why do some of us have to get drunk to say it? Why do some of us have to say it behind others backs before it comes to light? Why do some of us leave out details to manipulate the heart strings of those who listen to our stories?
We all do it. And we do it with time.
It’s hard to think of an on the spot lie.
So, as I sat there listening to my sister tell me the news that our father had died. I allowed myself to hear the truth for once. The truth was he wasn’t coming back. I would never hear him say ‘I love you everyday, all the way, all the time’ again. I would never get a chance to hear him apologize. And I would never get the reconciliation that I longed for deep inside. Even though I had been telling myself that I didn’t want that for an extended amount of time. I knew in that moment that that was just another lie from time.
I didn’t want time to dictate the narrative of my life anymore.
I cleaned. I cleaned metaphorically and physically. I packed an overnight bag with clothes, my toiletries, and laptop. I cleaned up my room. I swept and mopped and picked up trash. All the while, tears streamed down my face because now I was two for two in burying my parents. I cleaned things that were already clean. I cleaned until the tears stopped. I cleaned until I purged myself of all the walls I had put up around my fatherless upbringing and the effects it had on me. I sat on my bed and tried to pray. I tried to find words to say to my Heavenly Father but nothing came out.
When I was done. I felt empty. I felt void of tears. I felt free! Is this what they mean April showers bring May flowers?
I put my overnight bag in my car and drove. I drove because at that moment I needed to talk to my Father. There was only one place I knew he would be…
I pulled into the church parking lot grateful that it was early enough that only the volunteers were there. Not even my pastor had arrived yet. I have time to think of what I should say to him. As quickly as that thought came, it left. I wasn’t here for my pastor or church. I need to speak to my Father. I left all my stuff in my car and went into the main auditorium. I sat in the back in the shadows watching people buzz around me preparing for the services to come. I felt their anticipation for a good Sunday. I felt their joy and their happiness and I instantly hated that they were all so happy when I just became an orphan. Didn’t they know that today wasn’t a good day?
Please don’t let anyone bother me. I’m not in the—
“Janae!? What are you doing here?”
“Are you okay?”
“…you’ve been crying.”
“Come with me.”
I had tried my hardest to get words to come out of my mouth. To answer the questions that I had been asked. The only things that came out were tears and the words ‘father’ ‘dead’. I was wisked to a staffers office out of sight of people as they began spilling in to take part in the service. I could hear excited feet scurrying down the hallway to the auditorium just on the other side of the office door.
I said words about my father. The people sent to comfort me in the office listened intently. Soaking in every word. I could see the pity in their faces. I could see them lose all sense of what was the right thing to say to a girl who had just lost her last living parent. I saw them fighting back their own tears. And I knew that most of them would send their own parents a text of gratitude after this. After witnessing a tragedy, they would all go home thankful they weren’t me. But me, I would leave that office and travel to South Carolina to bury my dad.
After church, I got on the road. I had nothing but space and time as I traveled alone to my sister’s house in North Carolina. I blasted music hoping it would help me. But I just felt numb. It didn’t matter the type of music I played, none of it hit me how it usually did. The lyrics, the beat, the baselines all fell on deaf ears. I was grateful though. Because in this moment I could just…exist. Nothing was expected of me. Nothing was needed from me. I could just exist. This must be what daddy is feeling right now. He’s finally free from his earthly body and all its limitations. He doesn’t have anyone telling him what he should and should not be doing. No pressure from society or family. He’s free to just BE.
“So are you.” The voice of God whispered to me. My Father. I could hear God smile. I could feel His heart turn toward me with compassion and I knew immediately…I was made for this.
I am and always have been a daddy’s girl. My Father’s opinion of me matters. Lucky for me, I have the best Father in the World. A Father who has always had my best interest at heart even when it didn’t feel like it for me. A Father that disciplined me and provided for me even when it was an inconvenience to do it. A Father that sent His only begotten Son to die on a cross for me. A Father that would help me navigate through this tough time. And as I drove down that highway, God told me everything I needed to know about my dad.
God knew that I needed to know the truth not with time but with experience in revelation.
It was after my dad died that God began to reveal to me that my father’s love for me was one of sacrifice. He did not know how to be a father to a girl that was hurting the way I hurt. So, he decided that him being in my life would cause far more pain to me because he was not the man that I wanted him to be. See, if he was a constant in my life, I would not have had respect for him because my fantasy of what dads are was never who he was. Those times I looked back on from my youth were merely his performance of what he thought dads were supposed to look like. It was an act he couldn’t keep up with longterm and instead of further disappointment he gave up the act.
Here I was thinking that he didn’t love me but he loved me enough to not lie to me anymore about who he was. It was a sacrifice that took me almost 20 years to recognize. But the sacrifice was worth the wisdom I gained. The wisdom that there is no such thing as normal. There is no such thing that I am a victim of my life. No, I was made…for this!
k, good talk
This was written in Memory and in Celebration of my father Tony Michael Davis! One year without you has brought me closer than 27 years with you. Thank you, I love you everyday, every way, all the time!