The thing I don’t think you realize is that I’m only your father when you’re around.
It was that way with your mother, too. I was her husband. Felt like her husband, believed in the fact of my husbandhood–but only when we were together.
When she’d bundle you up in those thick, puffy jackets and wrap your little face in scarves so she could drive you to her mother’s house for the day, and I was left alone in the house, left walking up and down the creaking stairs, left sitting on the sofa by myself, I’d sometimes look up at that photo from JC Penney of the three of us and kind of marvel at it, be stunned that, yes, that was me in a picture with a woman and her daughter.
It would take me a minute to remember.
You’ll understand someday. Someday when you’re all grown up and you have a marriage and a family and a life that technically you chose through the inertia of little things you did, but which, in a larger sense, you never really chose in that way that people hold other people responsible for their “choices,” you’ll sit down somewhere and just be shocked that the world thinks you’re who you are.
Because inside, you’re not that person. Or you are, but you’re other people, too. You’re all your younger selves, too, I guess. And those kids living inside you, they can’t freakin’ believe in this other you.
That’s how it is when you’re gone, when I’m alone in the house. I can’t believe you exist. Can’t believe in this father-person that you believe in.
You’ll see, you’ll understand. It’ll all make sense to you–eventually.