A Shed of Tears
Mommy explained that daddy needed to go on a long trip. She handed me the phone and my father’s voice greeted me. He said he would be away for a while and to be good for mommy. “Are you going away on a big ship like nana did?” I asked.
“Ye-yeah, that’s right sweetheart, daddy’s going on a big boat for a while. Remember what we said to nana when she went on a big boat?”
“Um hum! Bon boyage!” I was proud that I pronounced such a grownup word.
“Well, now it’s time to tell daddy bon voyage, but always know that I love you and I’ll come home soon. Okay Sugar Bear?”
“Okay daddy! Bon boyage!” I climbed off the stool and hung up the phone, not knowing that would be the last time I would ever hear my father’s voice.
* * *
With my sixteenth birthday approaching and mom gone, I took the opportunity to snoop for presents. In her top drawer I discovered a small stack of envelopes, the words “Generated from a State Prison” stamped in red across each one, along with my father’s name and inmate ID number.
All this time I had been led to believe that my father died a hero when I was eight. Mom told me he was in the Navy serving our country. She had read me letters every so often telling of all the places he was visiting on his ship. Then one day she sat me down and told me there would be no more letters, daddy had died saving another officer; I should be proud of him and always remember that he loved me. Now I had proof that it was all a lie, but why? My head threatened to explode from the pressure of a million questions flying about. Clutching the letters, I fled to my shelter-the dilapidated old shed in my back yard.
I sat there, dim light filtering in through the cracked wooden walls and dusty windows, and began to read. He swore his love to my mother and apologized countless times, claiming that it was a sickness; he hadn’t wanted to hurt anyone.
Tears streamed down my cheeks threatening to blur the old ink on the pages I held so tightly. My beloved daddy, the hero, was a child molester; I loathed him and loved him all at once. Emotions filled me until, like a dam bursting, I gushed them out at the top of my lungs. “Why daddy? How could you hurt those poor little girls?” I collapsed to the floor, limp and broken. “Why them daddy? You could have been here…with me. I missed you for so long…I loved you! Why the lies? Why!”
Furiously, I screamed at my mom as I ran to her approaching car. “You said he was going on a trip! You made me think he was a hero! You said he was dead!” I accused, waving the letters at her.
“What have you done? I told you to never go in my room! You weren’t supposed to find those!” she whimpered, more distraught than angry.
“What have I done? I was looking for birthday presents. I’m turning sixteen mom. Remember? Instead, I found out that my life’s been a lie and my dad’s a pervert!”
“Jill, I’m sorry. When he was arrested, I never wanted to speak to him again, but I knew how much you loved him. He begged me not to tell you. He was afraid of disappointing you. The story was…easier. You’re face would glow as you heard of his adventures. The lie got so big we knew we had to end it, so I...told you he died.”
We talked for hours that night, but there was no way I could forgive either of them. For weeks I sought comfort in the solitude of my shed, not knowing what to believe anymore. Tears spilt out on the dirt floor leaving me empty. I questioned everything, asking God why I had to grow up without a father.
God showed me that He took my father away out of His love for me. He knew that I needed protection from a man who was not well. The pain I felt at my loss was dull compared to the potential pain of becoming one of his victims. God in his infinite wisdom had a plan for my life even back when I was daddy’s little Sugar Bear.
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