The wounds had healed and the bruises had faded, but the memories were still clear. Cassie couldn’t remember a time that she hadn’t been hit in her childhood. Even now, nearly thirty years later, she could still feel the pain of his hand on her face. The belt on her back when she’d done something to make him mad. Unconsciously, she touched her cheek as she stood outside the home. She whirled around and almost ran to her car. Once inside, she called her mom.
“I can’t do it,” she said as soon as she heard her mother’s voice.
“It’s okay. You don’t have to.”
“But I don’t want to let you down,” Cassie said as tears streamed down her face.
“Honey, this isn’t for me. I wanted you to talk to your father for you. I want you to be able to face him so that you can get on with your own life.” There was a pause before she continued. “I want you to have the kind of marriage I didn’t have with your father. The only way you can have that is to be healed from your past.”
After Cassie hung up, she leaned her head back and closed her eyes. Could she walk in there and face the man she’d avoided her entire adult life? The last time she’d seen him was when she left home at eighteen. She hadn’t even visited her mom until their divorce three years later. She knew her mom was right; she needed closure. She had spent two years in therapy before she could forgive her mom for staying with him. No amount of therapy had taken away the anger and hatred she had for her father until she had given God control. Even then, it was something she avoided thinking about when she could.
“I need to face him.” Cassie opened the door and got out. Taking a deep breath, she walked inside the retirement home and made her way down the hall. Room 203 was what her mom had told her. As she neared it, her steps slowed.
Jesus, help me, she prayed as she opened the door to his room. In the corner sat a feeble looking man wrapped in a blanket in a chair. He barely turned his head towards her.
“Hello?” a weak voice called out.
Cassie swallowed. “Hello, Dad. It’s me, Cassie.”
The man pushed himself straighter in the chair. He squinted his eyes as if he couldn’t see her. “Cassie? Is it really you? Come closer please.”
Cassie slowly walked towards him until she could see the tears on his cheeks. A lump formed in her throat. She hadn’t expected that.
“Oh Cassie, it is you. I’ve prayed for this for so long.” He stopped talking to cough.
Cassie sat down in the other chair opposite him. “I heard you had cancer. Is it bad?”
He nodded. “There’s nothing more they can do. I have less than six months. I’ve wanted this chance to beg for your forgiveness. For all of the pain I caused you. I’ve already asked your mother, but I need your forgiveness before I die.”
Cassie didn’t want to appear cold but she wasn’t sure she was ready for this. “I don’t know if I can give it to you. Your abuse nearly ruined my life. I’m in my thirties and I’ve never had a long-term relationship because I can’t stand the thought of anyone being close to me or touching me. It took me years of therapy to figure that out.” She wiped a tear from her eye. “I don’t want to be mean but I just don’t think I’m ready.”
Her father nodded. “I don’t blame you. I’ve hated myself for many years for what I did to you. After your mother left me, I sunk into such a black pit I thought I’d die. But God had other plans for me. He showed me His perfect love and how to change who I was. I don’t expect you to forgive me today. All I ask is that I have a chance to prove that I’m not the same man you knew growing up.”
Cassie looked down at the wrinkled hand that he held out to her. The hand that had beaten her so many times. It didn’t look the same. Maybe the rest of him wasn’t the same either.
“I can try,” she said as she placed her hand in his.
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