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Not Always There
February 2, 2011
I remember when you used to pick me up at cold night at 8:00 p.m. to play basketball at Belmont High School. We played every week outside on the dirty courts, under the bright lights -- just the two of us. It was awkward and confusing for me. It seemed like we never had anything to talk about. We were quiet even though we should have had so much to say.
You only lived with me until I was five. Unfortunately, I was too young to really remember that time together. After that, I grew up without you. You left and had another family -- a wife and kids. We never talked about it. You would hang with me each week, but emotionally you weren’t there for me.
Out on the courts, you used to ask me, “How are your grades?”
I would respond with a soft voice, “My grades are … fine.”
I would continue shooting the orange basketball.
You would drop me off at my house and say, “I love you.”
Inside of me I knew you loved me , but you weren’t there for me. I remember when you were not there for me when I was 12 years old and we had are big basketball game . I remember when my mom dropped me off in front of the school and she went to go look for parking. I thought to myself, “Will you come this time?”
I went to my coach and he said, “Go with the team to get warmed up for the game.”
I ran quickly over there to warm up. When we were warming up for the game, I kept on looking at the crowd to see if you were there, but you were not. I wanted you to come badly to my basketball game, but you never go never did you’ll go to your other son’s games, but not mine. The game started and I was one of the starters. I won my first basketball tournament that night and you weren’t there.
I will never forget that night you missed my first basketball tournament because that tournament we won 10-2 that night. I was about to sleep, I couldn’t. I started coming up with questions that I have wanted to know for almost my entire life: How come you and my mom broke up? How come I haven’t met your other family? How come I haven’t met my step-mom?
I’ve had these questions inside of me for a while and I have really wanted to get them out. I am making a promise to myself today that I will ask you those questions some time during the next three weeks -- before the end of February. If March comes around and I still haven’t asked you, I’m just going to call up and get it over with. I don’t want to wait too long because you never know what is going to happen in the future. I need to ask you all these questions (and so many more) before it’s too late.
I hope that someday in the future you will be there for me emotionally; I hope we can talk more. Everywhere I go, people tell me, “You look like your father.” There was this one time when I went to a party with my mom and she introduced me to her friends and they all kept saying, “Alex,” (they used my middle name), “You look so much like your father with those dark chocolate eyes and those big cheeks when you smile!” I guess the one big difference is that I’m taller than you, just like my mom.
What I’ve learned from all of this is that a father needs to always be there for his children, even if he has more than one family. The kind of dad I want to be someday is a dad who is involved and always present with his kids. Luckily, I don’t think it’s too late for us to have that kind of father-son relationship. We still have so many years ahead of us (hopefully).
This letter was really hard for me to write and at first, I didn’t want to do it, but now I’m glad I did because I wanted to get it out of my system. Writing this has made me realize that it’s ok to let out what you’re thinking or feeling. In the end, I see how writing can help me to let my thoughts and feelings out.