A letter to my dad…

Dear Dad,

I’m in Norfolk, VA this week, been here since Sunday night and I have to tell you that I miss home.  I remember you telling me when I was a kid that no matter where you travel to or how far your feet take you away from the place you planted your roots, there’s a place inside your heart that acts like a compass pointing you back to the place you need to be.  As I lay here now staring out the window of this high-rise fancy hotel, those words ring more true than I ever thought they would.  It’s funny how much of my life I’ve spent trying to get anywhere other than where I was and now I can’t get back to where I started soon enough.  I suppose it’s true what they say, “Wherever you go, there you are.”  You can leave town, fly over miles of land unfamiliar to your life and it’s drama but when you land back on solid ground, you still have all that baggage waiting for you on the carousel.

This place brought back memories for me especially because the last time I was here it was visiting my big brother who was stationed at the nearby base.  I miss him, not the man he is now but the boy he was then.  A boy who loved his mother simply because that is what sons are supposed to do.  He hated you then, that part isn’t a pleasant memory.  I remember begging him to give you a second chance and that memory alone is wrapped in irony since just two months ago I begged the very same thing of him with exactly the same result.  I guess people really don’t change do they daddy?  They paint on different makeup, wear different clothes, or talk a different game, but when it’s all stripped away and there’s nothing left but bare skin and a spotlight – the person they once were, remains.

I have felt your presence here as I walk down the waterside staring at the big ships parked just far enough away to appear out of reach but close enough to make you believe you might actually be able to touch them.  I suppose those ships are a lot like my memories of you.  There are moments when I feel that if I hold them tightly enough I might just will your presence back into my life but the more I focus on them the more they appear just out of my grasp.  Last night as I walked around the town I pretended you were with me, walking beside me holding my hand as you did so many times when I was little.  I stopped in front of a dance studio and watched the ballerinas and as they leaped across the floor it felt like you were there watching with me hugging me tight because it reminded you of me, your little ballerina.

I miss you dad.  Sometimes I miss you so much that it feels impossible to feel anything else.  I wonder if you are proud of me for sacrificing the time away from my family in order to build something that will later keep me close to them.  Are you proud of me for being strong for them even when they cry real tears for the distance that keeps us apart?  Are you proud because even though I feel so broken inside, on the outside I remain whole?  What I need you to b e  proud of is the fact that I’ve let the hate go for those people who lost faith in you.  Pity remains where hate once existed and honestly, I’d rather be hated than pitied.

I go home tomorrow dad.  I know by now you probably have your wings so if you could coast underneath the airplane that will deliver me back to my husband and children just to make sure I get back safely, I’d sure appreciate it.  Be proud of me dad because the last two months have taken their toll on me but I’m still here, still standing, still believing that one day there will be justice for us all.

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