My chest swelled with pride as I watched my daughter perform on stage at the Richard Stockton State College Performing Arts Center. It was her hip-hop dance recital. My eyes filled with tears of Joy and regret. Joy, for seeing her doing what she loved to do and regret for missing moments in her life that a father should never miss: her first footsteps, first words, first Christmas, her first day of school…. I have been selfish, chasing my fathers shadow, looking for my lost identity, when all along it was in right there in front of me, growing, breathing, and loving.
In the pursuit of my father’s shadow, and essentially my own identity, I made bad choices and decisions that led me to isolation, depression, and incarceration. Those choices took me away from my own flesh and blood. For the twelve years of her life, I have been absent for eight of those years and irresposible for the other four. I never learned how to be father from mine, and for a long time tried not to become him, but it seems that I had.
I see the errors in my thinking. I realize and feel all of those lost moments with my daughter. I will never get them back. I am ashamed of myself, to a point where I want to feel Blue, but I don’t, I turn it into a motivation to be a better father to her now. She makes me want to be a better father and through her I’ve learned that i can also be a better son to my mother, brother to my sister, and uncle to my nieces and nephews.
I have been home for a little over a month and I finally made a connection with her. (more to come)