Dear Papa

Each month Soul Stories hosts a "1st Sunday's" conversation on a different topic. We aim to have difficult, vulnerable and connective dialogue within a supportive community. This past January our topic was "The People We Love".

One of our long time community members, Kate DeCamp has started a monthly blog for Soul Stories. She will be writing short stories based on each month's topic and we will be posting them here!

Dear Papa

My counselor told me to write a letter to you, not to give to you, just to express my feelings and share things I can’t say just yet. So here goes.

For a long time I was really angry with you. I blamed you for my failed relationships, for my inability to open up and trust others. I resented you for growing up in poverty, for the lack of toys to play with and used clothes I had to wear that always seemed too large or too small. I accused you as a bad father for not being around more often, for the conversations never spoken. I hated you for not showing up to my school science fairs or performances, for spending more time with the kids of people you worked with. I left because of you. Really I ran away, and in the backpack that I carried from Guatemala to the States one could find anger and pain, weighing down my backpack like a burning volcanic stone of cooled lava.

I can’t take back all of those years that we didn’t speak, each Christmas that I never came home, Ma on the other end of the line saying “Te amos, Javi”. We love you Javi. I used to ask all of my girlfriends if they loved me. Really I was asking, am I lovable? Do I even want to be loved? For a long time I didn’t think I was loveable, or worse, worthy of being loved. And for that I acted as if I didn’t want to be loved, when really I wanted nothing more than to be loved. I hurt those closest to me by pushing them away, shutting them out, using hurtful words and harmful actions to create a wall around me.

I’m finding that time can bring an external appearance of maturity, yet internal wisdom does not. Wisdom comes from direct experience coupled with the willingness to reflect, learn and grow from the experience. I had plenty of direct experience with the anger and pain, yet it took a failed marriage at 40 to be willing to pull out the volcanic stone from my backpack I seemed to carry every day.

My counselor Susan asks me about ways you showed your love. At first I didn’t have much to say and I didn’t want to play her stupid activities, but the nighttime loneliness brings me back each week, and so I play. You showed your love every time we rode the bus into town and we read comic books, not only did you teach me to read in this way but really you were distracting me from seeing the pain and anguish that was painted on each face. When we read those comic books we were in our own little world and I could daydream about a happy existence separate from our reality of children far too underfed and streets filled of trash and homes with mud floors. You worked so much because you loved us; you didn’t want us to suffer like all of the other kids. You wanted to be able to bring home honey for us to put on our toast and flowers for Ma to put in her favorite vase. You showed your love every Sunday when we would spend time together as a family kicking the soccer ball around after church, and the few times a year when we went out for our dulce, treat, to the movies.

I’m writing you this letter because it pains me to think of waiting until the day when I stand before your coffin and whisper, “ I’m so sorry for not calling, for not coming home. It wasn’t your fault. I forgive you. I love you.” I don’t want to wait until that day to tell you. So here I am, scribbling these words across the paper. A tender, fragile, vulnerable paper- much like my heart. I crumple up the paper and toss it into the fire. I watch the paper twist as it singes atop the volcanic stones. Better there, at peace, then at the bottom of a backpack. I flip open the computer and look up flights. I don’t know if I’m ready to speak these words, but I do know I’m ready to go home.

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