Hey Dad, I Did It All Without You

I don’t flinch when someone asks about you. I have memorized the script back and forth. I lost track of how many times I’ve regurgitated the same lines. My voice is steady. My emotions are in check.

The memories are reserved for only a few.  I share small moments that don’t seem like a lot but they are everything. “Dad missed my birthday, but he wrote to me later that he’s always thinking about me, that he loves me.”

The truth is, you don’t know what love is. You think saying “I love you” once in awhile is enough. You think thinking about me is sufficient, “But I always have good intentions, you know that. You know that deep down I love you.” No. That’s not good enough. Because action always beats intention and you love people through your execution, your effort, by being there. You have to actually show that you care. And you haven’t. Not enough. Not then and not now.

The truth is, I don’t know if you realize what you did or didn’t do. I don’t think you realize the marks that you’ve left. For so long I wanted it to be you, I needed it to be you. I needed you to be the person who would tell me it was all going to be okay when I didn’t feel like it; to take a picture of me before my first prom, to be there for me when my world came crashing down and when my dreams came true, with a look in your eyes that made me feel like the most special person in the world. I needed you to be the person who would give me advice after my first heartbreak. To make me laugh through my tears and tell me that every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.

But when it wasn’t you, when time after time you weren’t there, I learned to live without you. I learned to hold my own hand and to celebrate with people who are worthy of my love. And maybe the scars you left will always be there - maybe my big fear of the unknown makes me compensate. But it’s made me driven, unapologetic. By you not being there, I had to compensate. I never sat on the sidelines in hopes that things would just come to me. I went after the life I wanted to live, instead of being restricted by what was “correct” and expected of me.

When you weren’t there, you had no right to tell me who I could and couldn’t be, so I became exactly who I wanted to be.

The truth is, I wanted more than anything for it to be you. For you to lift me up, to teach me how not to be afraid, to be open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance. You were the one man who I ever really needed. And secretly I always wished that one day, you would be everything that I needed you to be. But time after time when you weren’t there, I did it all without you. And maybe, just maybe, you not being there, was the biggest blessing in disguise.  

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Anna Bashkova

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