A few weeks ago, I wrote about visited my estranged father. He and my mother were not married, and he left before I was born. I was five years old before he signed my birth certificate and acquiesced that I was his son. I have only seen him about 6-7 times in my life, and most of those for only a few brief minutes.
Through the years I have struggled with all the emotions that come with this kind of thing.
For some time I didn't really notice. I didn't know any different, and it didn't seem to matter. I was doing fine.
Then I felt the abandonment. What had I done wrong? Why didn't he want anything to do with me? Why did this happen?
The the anger and bitterness. I hate him and didn't need him anyway. Look what I did without him!
Then the pity. I feel sorry for him and for the things in his life that made him act as he did.
Emptiness seems to accompany all the previous; a sense that something is missing and that I am somehow incomplete. That hole can't be filled by anything. It is usually just a dull ache at certain times or a deep seated sense that things are just not the way they should be.
There haven't really been feelings of any kind for a while except the occasional feelings of emptiness. I just kind of existed and didn't think about it. Last month I received a phone call that my father was dying. Over the past few weeks, just prior to and since the visit, I have felt some combination of all of these feelings.
This morning I learned that he had passed away at 3:30 am...and I was overcome.
I don't know why I cried (yes, I cried). Why would I cry for someone I don't even know and has never made an attempt to see me? I am sure there a thousand of those pandering, pat responses people could give...don't worry it will be okay...he was your father after all...type of things. You know, the things people say when they don't know what to say and should really not say anything at all rather than those trite phrases.He was, after all, my father. :)
Maybe it is a loss of hope and possibility that I am mourning. I never really expected him to want a relationship or to be part of my life, but as long as he was alive there was always the possibility. Many people have changed and made amends and corrected faulty relationships; it could certainly happen to him. Now, all the possibility is gone.
I don't know what will happen from here. I don't know that side of the family, and there are no funeral arrangements. He donated his body to a local university.
This post should not, however, end on a meaningless, fatalistic note. Very early on I knew that my father was not the prototype of my Heavenly Father. My earthly father was the broken, distorted, sin-influenced version of everything that my Heavenly Father intended him to be. Even at my best, I too and the broken, distorted, sin-influenced version of everything that my Heavenly Father intends me to be. Too often people make the mistake of looking at the horrible wreck of their earthly father and saying, "If God is like that..." What we should really be saying is "The Heavenly Father is mold and model that everyone else should be compared against!" He is the one who gets it right. We don't always understand, but he is always right.
I have always found great comfort in this verse:
Sing to God, sing praise to his name, extol him who rides on the clouds—his name is the LORD—and rejoice before him.
A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.
God sets the lonely in families, he leads forth the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.