We were left behind, my mother and I, and my little sister Elizabeth. My
father left when I was seven, and Elizabeth was only 4. When he left, my sister
cried her eyes out remembering all the things about our daddy. She remembered
how he would tickle her, cheer her up and make her laugh when she was sad, and
how he called her Lizzie. That’s how it started. It was the nickname he gave to his
mama when he was little. He called Elizabeth that because it was faster to say
than her name, and because she reminded him so much of his own mama.
Sometimes he would come home from work and find her crying. He would sit
her on his lap, hug her to his chest in a little ball, rock her gently, and sing to her
softly, until she stopped crying. Many nights before we went to bed, while I read
my book, he would hold her on his lap and whisper soothing stories in her ear ’til
she fell asleep.
So many warm, cozy memories flooded our minds whenever we thought of him.
All that changed on February 14th, two days before my birthday. He and
mama had had a few fights over the past few weeks. They’d yell at each other
behind their bedroom door, thinking we couldn’t hear. Then one of them would walk
away, so they couldn’t hear what the other was trying to say. It hurt my heart,
time and time again. But this was nothing compared to those fights. It tore my
heart in half, and I ached inside for almost three days afterward.
I was out in the garden tending to the flowers when I heard it. Urgent and
quick words exchanged, a small bit of yelling, and the click of a closing door. Lizzie
came running from the house and collapsed in my arms crying a river.
“He’s…going…,” she gasped. More crying. “Said……was……leaving…good.” I held
her tight, rocking her like our daddy did. She pressed her face into my shoulder,
crying, and now and then, shuddering. When she finally calmed down, she explained.
Mama and daddy had gotten into a big fight. Daddy had said something that
hinted another woman was involved. Mama jumped on him about it and he kept
trying to tell her it was the secretary at the office who needed to meet with him
for business. Mama was all in a fury. Daddy, realizing mama wasn’t giving in, went to
his office in the back corner of the house and shut the door. She said that mama
had mentioned something about leaving and daddy had said, “Alright then I will!”
That’s when he walked out.
I sat there rocking Lizzie in my arms and holding back tears. This can’t happen. But it did.
The next day, daddy left in his car with a suitcase and didn’t return until a
month later. Six weeks after he left we found he won’t be coming back. While
Lizzie and I were at our friends’ house, daddy came with a trailer and some men
and took what was his. He also left mama a letter with a few strands of money and
a divorce paper. Later, when we came home, mama told us he’d gone. Gone for good
and never coming back. That’s what the divorce warrant said. Mama enclosed Lizzie
in a hug but she tore from mama’s arms and ran to her room, crying. I followed
while mama said she was sorry, over and over again.
That night we ate dinner in Lizzie’s room, leaving mama to eat on her own. To
cry to herself and put everything on her shoulders. That evening I stayed with
Lizzie and held her throughout the dark hours of the night.
A few months after that episode, Lizzie began to talk to mama again. Then
the letter came. Daddy was explaining that he had remarried and started another
family. He said that Lizzie and I could visit now and then if we wanted to. But
Lizzie didn’t want to because she would just cry every time, seeing and
remembering our daddy. And for her to see that he had another family. Maybe
two girls of his own again that he would call his sweethearts…I couldn’t continue. It
brought tears to my eyes just to think about it. So I agreed to not see him either.
him how things were here and asked him what was going on and where he lived.
I still think about him at night when I lay awake. Sleep having escaped my
mind. Silent tears roll down my cheeks as I remember all the happy, sad and fun
times we had together. I forgave him for what he did, and even though he isn’t
part of my life anymore, I still love him just as much.
One moment we were a family. Happy, loving each other. And the next thing I
knew my life had disappeared. All my hopes and happy thoughts gone with him. Gone
because he was included in everything I dreamed of. But it happened so suddenly.
And just like that,
My father was gone.