Makes Me Wonder

February 18, 2011
By , Los Angeles, CA
I feel like my story is very common, but let me say when it’s your own life it doesn’t seem trivial. It doesn’t help knowing that you’re not the only one without a dad. The absence of a father consumes you, fills you with a sense of emptiness that makes you wonder if it will ever go away.

My story is about a woman living without a husband, a son growing up without a male role model, and a daughter never knowing those precious father-daughter moments.

My father left when I was three years old. All I have are photographs of him. In those pictures, I see a man who is just the right height, with a medium build and luscious, dark, curly hair. He seemed to always wear sunglasses, with his shirt tucked in. To be honest, he had the looks. I can see what my mother saw in him; I guess she didn’t know back then that looks aren’t everything.

Years later, my mother says, he came back to visit when I was six. She says that he took my older brother Carlos and me to MacArthur Park and bought us burgers. I really don’t remember any of this; it feels as if someone else was living this because no matter how hard I try, I can’t seem to remember.
To put it simply, many times I wonder why he bothered coming for that one last visit. I often tell myself, “Maybe it was his way of saying good-bye, his farewell.” Maybe he thought that with that he was good to go, you know, he was free of all charge, and I think and think and think but even then all my thoughts always come back to this because he never came back.

In other words, never tried to communicate, never tried to say I’m sorry, never looked back despite all my mother’s pleadings. I am not little anymore; I know better than to believe in making a wish every time I see a shooting star because they will never come true unless you take them into your own hands, but even then it can fail.

Then one day, everything changed. I was fourteen years old and with just that moment my world completely turned upside down. I was in the California Science Center. It was a hot day and it was packed inside the main entrance, there were a lot of tourists and I think it was because the exhibition we were going to see was truly extraordinary. My mother and I had just come from the restroom, when I saw my brother, Carlos, standing there with his gaze intent on something at the other end of the building.

My mother came up behind me, and Carlos asked, without taking his eyes off the thing he was staring at, “Mom, isn’t that our dad?”

I heard my mom say,“ Huh? Where? Who?” in a confused voice.

My brother replied angrily, “Carlos...”

I could hear the unsaid words “father” hanging in the air.

My mom turned in the direction my brother was staring and slowly said, “Yeah... it is.”

Then she repeated in a more certain voice, “Yes, it’s Carlos.”

My brother had always detested that his name was Carlos, just like our father. At first, I thought it was only because it’s such a common name, but then as I grew older I came to realize that it wasn’t the real reason. He hated it because it is our father’s name.

That’s when I saw him. This man who I’d only seen in pictures, who seemed like a mythical creature, something out of this world, something that seemed unreal. I saw this man who had dark curly hair, just like my brother, sitting with his leg crossed at the knee. His arms crossed over his chest and sunglasses covered his eyes. When I realized it was my father, I knew it wasn’t unreal it was the complete opposite. It was completely real and it caught me off guard.

In that moment, a tornado of emotions roared inside of me. I stood there feeling confused, hurt, outraged, and just plain shocked. I didn't know what to do, my face felt hot, my eyes felt damp, my legs were trembling. It was hard to breathe and with my heart feeling heavy in my hands, I stared. I stared as if he were a creature from another planet, something that catches your attention that is both repulsing and fascinating at the same moment. I couldn't take my eyes off him and I guess he couldn't either and in that moment it felt like this door was closed and yet another open with questions bursting out.

Questions that will remain without answers, questions that will haunt me for a long time but I know that I won’t be able to do anything about it. Just live with them like I have ever since he left.

I had always asked myself, “What would I do if I saw your father?”

My mind never had an answer, but now I know, because when the time finally came, what I ended up doing was just walking away. Walking away like he did to me, to us, 11 years ago. I ask myself again, and again, and again, “Do I regret not talking to him?” I never have a clear response.

In the end, what I mostly come back to is that he had the chance to talk to us, all those years ago and even now he just stared back, didn’t try to make a move. He could have taken the time to find us but he never did. He never did, so it was his loss, not mine. There are opportunities that are once in a life time, there are others that you can make everyday. When you’re in that position you have to act fast or the decision will be made for you. From my perspective, sometimes the decision you make isn’t always right, or may not seem right, but I think that in the end you have to do what is best for yourself.

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