An Open Letter to My MIA Father

Dear Daddy,

The forms asked for your name, citizenship, and date of birth.

When I called the help line to ask whether I should use “N/A”, or “unknown” in response to these questions, I was told that I was to fill in the forms, as they were.

I let the man on the other end of the phone know that I couldn’t because I didn’t know who my father was. Without missing a beat he asked, “How can that be?”

I told him that my mother had sex with a man, got pregnant, and that I was the outcome. Other than that I had no details, or at least none that would accurately answer the questions on the travel visa application.

I was put on hold.

After an extensive wait I was instructed to include a “long form” birth certificate with my paperwork. This would, depending on how it was completed at the time of my birth, either verify that I truly was a fatherless child, or supply the requested information.

Because I didn’t have this particular version of my birth certificate I ordered one online from my local government. It arrived today.

Over the years, my Mother told me a few things about you. But being that she was who she was, I never quite knew if she was telling the truth about you, or anything else for that matter. Maybe that’s why you didn’t stick around.

When I finally summoned the guts to open the envelope I noticed that the area where my father’s information was supposed to be, was blank.

Tears began streaming down my face. They were hot and burned with a disappointment that I never knew I had. I wanted to know my Father.

Sure, my Mother had men in her life and sometimes they were decent enough to pass for Father figures. I even called one of them “Daddy” until I was seven years old. But just like you, he too became a phantom.

It is said that blessings come in many shapes and sizes and perhaps you never being a part of my life was a blessing in disguise.

Maybe you were even more un-stable than my Mother was.

If that’s true, then I am grateful that you were absent, because my small hands were pretty full handling the goodies that mommy dearest handed out.

For most of my life I just ignored you, thinking that if you didn’t want anything to do with me then why would I want anything to do with you? This simple, childlike logic kept me cocooned in a steel display case of bravado to which I had no key and no way out — until today.

Today Daddy, my heart broke open for a love I never knew, for a man I never saw and for a life I never lived.

Today I wept like a baby with my body curled into a fetal position as sobs of despair finally escaped their solitary confinement.

In case you ever felt guilty about your decision, I want you to know that I that I wouldn’t have wanted you to stay with a woman you didn’t love, like, or see a future with, just because she was pregnant.

I have sometimes wished that I had had a “normal” family life but then I remember that there is nothing normal about being normal. While this is by no means a panacea for having lived a life of weirdness (you were just Step One of the uniqueness that I call my history) it helps me lighten the load.

I want you to know that no matter why you turned away from fatherhood, or where you are now, I love you. Unconditionally.

After all is said and done, that is the most precious gift that family offers – love.

originally published in: The Good Men Project