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A Daughter’s Closure This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

No child ever wants to feel like they aren't good enough. Whether at sports, school, or anything else, I never felt good enough for my biological father. I always thought that maybe if I had been, he would have stayed. Why else would he have left? In my young mind I longed for something I'd never have. I would sometimes wonder if I had been a boy, would he have stayed? He'd always wanted a boy.

His sudden departure had left three bitter souls and one very small, confused, innocent one who would turn bitter. He'd left my faithful mother, for his “soulmate.” Some soulmate she was after she had that ring on her finger. Leslie was her name.

My 15-year-old stepsister and I (five at the time) visited them once.To say Leslie despised us would be putting it nicely. I only remember getting in trouble a lot due to my rapscallion tendencies: I was a very curious and adventurous child.

After that, well, I didn't see him for a long time. Ten years, to be exact. In ten years a lot of bitterness can develop. Ten years of innocence to be hurt. He'd occasionally send me Christmas or birthday cards in Leslie's handwriting, though. To think he couldn't even take the time to write himself! Had, his first-born, meant so little to him?

He'd sent presents once: lip gloss and make-up. I'd been happy that day. Sometimes he sent pictures of himself with his other daughter. I'd grow green with envy every time. She got all his time and I was just a fleeting thought. Eventually, he got his son.

When I was a sophomore he contacted me again which led to me to be standing in this restaurant with my mom, looking at the giant of a man – width and height – in front of me.

“Hi,” I said softly, not believing I was standing in front of my father. This man I'd conjured up from pictures and stories was actually real and standing in front of me. A puzzled look crossed his face, then he saw my mom. Realization dawned on him like the light of a new day. Before I could say anything, he enveloped me in his arms. He was hugging me. He began to shake and I looked up. He was crying. My mother stood with a stone face. She despised him and was only there for me.

“I'm sorry, you're just so beautiful,” he said, letting go to wipe a tear.

I couldn't help but agree with my inner voice that spat, You could have been here to watch me grow up, but I was silent. What do I say to this stranger? I awkwardly fidgeted. I was excited that he was here, but, because of his absence in my life, I hadn't learned how to interact with the male species. He smiled, and sure enough, we had the same teeth, except mine were straighter. He didn't stop smiling and I looked into his green eyes. I definitely didn't inherit those, although I wished I had.

Finally a waiter came and broke the moment.

“How many?” he asked, looking at the three of us.

My father looked at my mom. It was weird to see them standing there together, knowing their history together that could have been more.

“Did you want to eat with us?” he asked her.

“No, you guys enjoy your time together.”

No! my subconscious screamed, not wanting her to leave me, but I needed to do this myself.

“Are you sure?” he asked, searching her face. I knew he saw what he could still have. For her age, my mom looks good. In that moment I knew he still cared. I could sense his regret. I could only imagine how my mom felt, having to deal with the man who not only broke her heart but ripped it to pieces.

“Yes,” she replied. I gave her a hug.

“I love you,” I said simply.

“I love you too,” she replied.

I knew all I had to do was call and she'd be there – my rock, my savior, my idol.

“Two, please,” I said, taking the initiative. My mom turned to leave and I saw my father looking after her.

The grass isn't as green on the other side, is it? my subconscious hissed, but I said nothing. I am not that kind of person.

The waiter took us to our table and we studied each other. He was bald, of course, just like in the pictures. He was hefty, although I knew he was once slim and muscular. Why didn't you try to see me before? I thought. I had all these questions running through my head, but I wasn't sure I wanted the answers.

The waitress came to take our order, and my father made a corny joke, laughing at it.

“Acts like a big baby.” My mom's words rang in my head.

“How was your trip?” I finally asked. It was a safe question, not too complicated.

“Hot,” he replied, with a chuckle. I looked out the window. The steaming Kansas heat wavered visibly across the blacktop.

“Does your air conditioner not work?”

“It broke on the way.”

He saw my quizzical look and went on. “I need what money I have for gas for the trip back – not to mention, Leslie keeps sticking her palm out for more money.” He grimaced as if the thought of her was revolting. I was shocked: first that he was sharing this personal information right away, and, second, that he doesn't seem too happy with her.

“Why does she need more money?” I asked, delving in.

“Well, if it isn't one thing, it's another. Even when I just gave her money to grocery shop, we have no food in the house.”

As we talked, it hit me that there had never been anything wrong with me. He just hadn't contacted me because of his own problems. It was his loss not seeing me grow up. For the first time in a long time, I felt content. If I never saw him again, I wouldn't necessarily mind. God had blessed me with a gracious mom who had not only been a mother but a father too.

I guess it's true when they say that the grass on your side of the fence could be just as green with a little water.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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