I’m definitely not happy that you are gone but I’m not depressed either. The level of sadness that I feel is about the same way that I felt when I found out Michael Jackson and Guru died. I was slightly mournful, not because of the relationship that we had, but because of the relationship we could’ve had. You made cameos on holidays, birthdays and I made surprise appearances on Thanksgiving. When I was younger, I eagerly waited for the curtain to open; a game of Pop the Wiesel, a broken Jack in the Box.
When I was younger I asked myself “Why?” Why didn’t you love me? Why didn’t you want to take care of me like you did your younger child by another woman? Why weren’t you concerned with my growing pains? With my questions about life? With my existence? It hurt even more when I looked around at the few examples of strong black fathers around me – daddies who were there to pick up their baby girls when they fell. Daddies who gave piggy back rides. Daddies who bought tiara’s on princess birthdays. Daddies who said I love you, you’re beautiful, you’re special.
Then as I got older, I started asking “How?” How can someone create something and abandon it. How could you look me in my eye or tell me in my ear that you were going to do something and not do it? How could you not school me on the nature of boys and the monstrosity of men? How could you not show up for my 8th grade graduation, my High School Graduation, my college graduation?
I gave you the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps (and I love her dearly, because she was your substitute & a damn good one) you and my mom had issues that prevented you from being around. I’ve witnessed that first hand, baby mothers who use their children as pawns in a game of “Marry Me/Commit To Me & Love Me Only.” Baby mothers whose child was supposed to be the bartering chip for a lifetime of happiness. Baby mothers who belittle, bend the truth and defile the name, the legacy and the reality of the situation. But my mom went out of her way to encourage our relationship. She’d often drop me off and pick me up when you didn’t have transportation. She’d write “dad” on Christmas gifts and birthday gifts and she never spoke an ill word against you… ever…
And then as you got older and started getting sick. Couldn’t sleep without a breathing machine, my question became “When?” When would we have this imperative discussion about our relationship. When would you step up and admit your mistake? Your regret? Your truth? When could I tell you my truth? My grief? My disappointment? Ironically, after your mother died you disappeared and no one knew where you’d gone or why you’d gone. I’d get calls from your siblings asking had I heard from you. I’d laugh. “You CAN’T BE SERIOUS?” And I accepted in my heart that the next time that I heard from you or about you, you’d be dead.
When I found out that you’d disappeared I’d buried you and any hope that I had of reconciling or reparations. I’d decided that I wouldn’t go to your funeral, I’d probably send flowers and I’d try to forgive you and now I ask who. Although I don’t have biological children of my own I ask who is going to be strong enough, selfless enough and grounded enough to procreate with me? Who is going to ensure that my baby(ies) never have to experience the hallow haunting of an absentee parent? Who is going to ensure that I don’t become a single mom? Who are the individuals in your life that you loved and that knew you intimately. Who are the individuals whose lives are going to drastically change because you are no longer around? Who are the individuals that received your time, your support and your attention because no man is an island…
And what, what does it take to move past this void? What was it that made you abandon me? What type of way am I supposed to feel, now that you are no longer here, what do I do when I think of you? And where. Where do dead-beat daddies go in the afterlife? Where did you imagine our relationship when I was born on January 21, 1984, when you first learned that I was no longer an idea, but a growing being? Where were you when you last thought of me and what brought on the memory? Where were you when you took your last breath and where are you now?
Donnie Belcher (The daughter who was named after you because you’d hoped for a boy and wanted to name me Junior but instead chose the feminine friendly “Donnie,” who was teased in grammar school because of the “Belch” in my last name and who was GLAD to get rid of it when I got married – no hyphen).