Last Wednesday night we had what I have started lovingly calling the Annual Big Ass Family Dinner. This event involved, from my side of the family, Dale and I along with Jess, her son Patrick and boyfriend Eryk, Luke and his girlfriend Karly and Hannah. The other half of the group included my Uncle Tommy, my cousin Lisa and her husband Pat, my cousin Len and his wife Peg, their son Brian and wife Tara, their son Dan and his girlfriend Mandy, their daughter Megan and her boyfriend Jim. We were a big group and Len arranged for us to have a private room. I brought the camera and shot some family photos after dinner.
All of us.
I used to be the girl who had practically no family and now I’m the girl with this big loving family and it’s pretty amazing.
And that group of people right there, my family, is where I’m getting my strength from these days because on Monday I got a phone call from my stepmother in Maine informing me that my dad (the “real” one) died on Saturday. I haven’t heard from him in nearly 17 years and, while this phone call wasn’t exactly a shock, well, it has left me in a bit of a state.
Truthfully, nothing in my world has changed. Dale, as always, is my rock. My children (the one I birthed and the ones I got when I fell in love with their father) know I love them and I’m never going to up and walk out of their lives. And yet I’m feeling emotionally vulnerable. And I’m left wondering what kind of parent just stops being a parent. I know, thanks to some very wise people in my world, that his actions (or lack thereof) say a whole helluva lot more about him than they do about me. I also know that my story is far from unique. The adult in me understands all of that and accepts it.
The child in me, though? The little girl that still lives in my head? She is wondering why her daddy didn’t want to be around. She’s wondering if she did something wrong or if maybe she wasn’t pretty enough or lovable enough for him to want her. She’s feeling a wee bit scared and she’s missing her mom terribly at this particular moment. And she sort of just wants to lay down and cry for a bit. I keep telling her she’s wrong about herself and to shut up already but she’s a persistent little thing.
So you know what I’m going to do? I’m going to keep showing her those pictures up there. And I’m going to keep reminding her that our world is full of people who do think we’re good enough to love.
Eventually she’ll catch on and believe it, I’m sure of it.