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Topic: Rejection (11/15/04)
TITLE: I Try To Imagine
By Jackie McCauley
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He would have noticed when I was four years old and wore the blue dress that Mom bought for me at the goodwill store. A bridesmaid’s dress, with lace and flowers, I think. Watching my reflection in the mirror as the ruffles floated out above my knees, I could twirl for hours. He tells me how beautiful I am. He does not tell me to sit down so he can see the game and to take off the stupid dress because it is way too big for me.
I imagine him scooping me up when I broke my leg at the skating rink when I was nine. His graying whiskers touch my cheek and he whispers, “It’s okay, Daddy’s here!” He tells me I’ll be fine and my leg will heal and the pain will go away. He does not call me careless and stupid. He does not complain about the doctor bills.
I imagine him coming to my side in eighth grade when my science project was due. He tells the teacher and everyone in the room that the lopsided dinosaur is truly magnificent and in fact, he did not forget to buy the science project display board. He tells everyone I deserve an “A+.” He does not call me stupid and yell at me when I get a “C” instead.
I can feel his arm on my shoulder when I am sixteen. He tells me that I am beautiful and that I do not have to give in. He tells me to wait, to trust, to hope. He buys me a blue dress with flowers and we talk about college and the future. He does not tell me that I am disgraceful. He does not tell me that I cannot stay in his home.
I imagine his embrace when I am twenty-four. He tells me that nothing is worth dying for. He tells me that the pain will go away, my heart will heal. He tells me that I am beautiful and that he loves me. He tells me that I have so much to live for and that Jesus loves me. He does not swear and yell and tell me that I have embarrassed him.
I imagine his pride when I walk across the stage when I am thirty-two. When I give the valedictory address, he takes pictures and gives me roses and tells me that he is so proud of me. He does not look into my eyes and tell me that I am too old for such nonsense. He does not tell me that if I had any sense when I was a kid I wouldn’t have got knocked up.
I imagine him bouncing his grandson on his knee. He ruffles his hair and plans a fishing trip. He goes to church with us and eats Sunday dinner since Mom is gone. I make his favorite dessert and we laugh and talk about politics and books. He tells me that I am beautiful and he is proud of my work and my home. He does not call once a month and ask me if I am still with that loser and call my son a brat.
I arrange the blue flowers in front of the carefully chosen stone. Like most of the others, the stone is simple, bearing my parent’s names and their dates of birth and death engraved in plain letters. Since my dad was a carpenter, the statement on a nearby decorative garden stone bearing the carving of a builder’s block seems particularly penetrating: “Words are the building blocks of a life. These have all been spoken.”
Thankfully, the eternal Words of hope and healing grace spoken by another Father, also a carpenter, have healed my heart but at times I still wonder...
...what it would have been like if he could see how much I needed him to love me.