An Open Letter to my Father

Dear Father,

As I sit here and think about my upcoming graduation in May, I wonder if you regret missing out on all of the experiences I’ve had since you left. In my sophomore year of high school, I was so young and vulnerable. You left, a close father figure died about a month later, and I was coming to terms with a toxic friendship that left me feeling… weirdly empty. But you wouldn’t have known those other two things because you left.

Hell, I don’t even think you would’ve known them had you been here. We never did anything except sit on the couch, watching TV or go out and fish. I saw you at work because that happened to be my first job and sometimes you would come to soccer games and band concerts. Sometimes actually being rarely. Mom pulled double duty just to make sure it didn’t actually feel like you were missing.

(Photo by Cole Keister)

But I still sit here and wonder if you regret missing my senior night as captain of the soccer team or student leader in the marching band. Do you regret not seeing me get acquitted as an arsonist for our big spring mock trial case? You somehow made it to high school graduation even though I explicitly said I didn’t want you there.

What about college? Do you regret not being there to move me in? See me perform with the IUP Marching Band when we were over on the eastern side of the state? Hear about my first weeks of college? 

(Photo by Indiana University of Pennsylvania)

I went to Spain this past summer with an amazing group of people. I got there without a single cent from you, even though I do admit that it probably would’ve been extremely helpful. You weren’t there to send me off. You weren’t there when I got back and recounted how amazing it was. You aren’t here right now to see how much I’ve grown since I hit rock bottom last school year. 

Where you are is roughly 1,000 miles away, trying to convince everyone else that you’re the victim in this game called life. That you didn’t make the active choice to up and leave. Even before then, you made the choice to not break old habits and to stay the person you are. No growth, because the things that happen just can't be your fault. And you keep trying to pull me back in, by saying you’re proud of me and congratulating me on accomplishments that you had absolutely no part in helping me achieve.

(Photo by Caleb Finegan)

I am thriving. This is the happiest I've been in my life, I have amazing friends, new and old, and vast crowd of people that have my back. I have family that I can depend on and a future I know is bright because I've worked my butt off for it. I'm set to graduate a year early and get a great, paid internship that will hopefully lead straight into a job working in communications for the federal government. All without your help.

So I have one question… Do you regret it?