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Wish you were here....

by Angelina Sumner 4 days ago in immediate family

A daughter's heart in a letter

I’ve gone back and forth in posting this all day, but as I sit in front of the home I grew up in when my dad dropped my brother and I off here in California years ago so he could go on another “business trip”, I am deciding to post this. Not because this is your everyday post of losing a parent and expressing grief to then have someone say “I am sorry for your loss”, but because for most of my life when people have asked me the question of “What are your parents like? Or where does your family live?” I have only been able to answer them with: “Oh they live in different countries and I haven’t seen them for 10+ years”. But what I really want to say is, “I don’t know my parents, I haven’t known my parents for who they truly are since they divorced when I was only 6 years old”. And for most of my life I have wished with everything I have that I could know them and fill the constant void I feel in my life (I did reconnect with my mother via social media after my son Jaxon was born 5 years ago). So here I go with trying to put into words my feelings because this is how I can give myself some kind of closure for the mystery of a person I have imagined my father to be:

I never thought it would feel like this when the day would finally come. The day I find out you passed away; I thought so much time has gone by that I would be numb to it, but it turns out I’m not. And all I keep thinking now is that I wish I would’ve called your number when you emailed me a year ago. I wish I wasn’t so stubborn to give you another chance that I would’ve let my guard down so I could hear your voice and let you hear your grandkids voices, even if for just one time. All I ever wanted was for you to be my dad, not Jonathan, the guy that had to be the greatest or richest in the world, just “Dad”. Because to me I never cared what you did or who you knew, I just wanted to know the real you. I wanted you to be there to see me grow up, I wanted you to walk me down the aisle one day and see your grandkids grow up; and maybe by some slim chance you could’ve turned your life around and got a second chance with them. I was always rooting for you to overcome your issues and the lies you had to keep up with so you could have a chance at happiness. I wanted to see you fulfill all the stories you told me and my brother as a kid, because once I became a parent I realized that deep down you just wanted us to be proud of you after you lost it all. I would normally never share this with the world, but I also never thought I’d find out my father passed away via a news article online (that was later confirmed after calling the US Embassy- boy what a surreal conversation that was). And if I hadn’t had a strange feeling to try connecting with you and making sure you were alright out there in another country during all this COVID chaos, I may not have ever found out.

So I’m also writing this to urge anyone who might have a family member or friend that they cut out of their life to strongly reconsider that decision. Because no matter what you or that person might be going through, you are never promised a second chance with them. And no matter how tough you think you are and that losing them forever might not phase you, you will never know the amount of guilt that might come with that decision until the day comes. On my strongest days, and through any accomplishments I’ve had in life, I’ve always wished deep down that I had my mom and my dad in my life to see who’ve I’ve grown up to be. All I ever wanted growing up was my family, I wanted holidays with my mom, my dad and my little brother. The only holiday I remember growing up was one Christmas before my parents divorced, and it was the best memory I ever had as a kid. It was like an image from a movie with our living room filled with gifts from “Santa” and my brother and I running to our perfectly arranged tent sets (that I have no idea how they fit in there), but somehow my parents found every toy they could buy and filled up the room to make that day magical. But it’s not the toys that made it magical, it was being in a room with my family and feeling the love of my parents that I haven’t felt since. That was the magic that I have missed for 25 years. The rest of my childhood somewhat faded away because of all the darkness that we went thru after. But that day I will always remember as the day I had a family, and the one time I felt “normal” as a kid.

Even though the events that happened after made me the person I am today, I always wished I still had that family....and today I make a vow to my kids that they will always feel that family magic. And no matter how tough life may get, I will always be there for them. Life is a crazy thing full of event after event until one day we reach the end. I woke up this morning feeling sick of the country we live in and the news constantly showing the chaos around us, but if I didn’t check the news today, I wouldn’t have found out my father had passed away, alone in a hotel room in Cambodia at 58 years old. He spent the last 10+ years chasing a fantasy and was too proud to admit he failed and lost it all. Though my dad never said it, when I scroll back at all of his messages now, I see how much he bragged about his life just because he wanted me to be proud of him. Dad, I hope you know wherever you are now that I would have been the most proud daughter if you would have let me and just put being a dad over being “Jonathan”. And though I won’t get the chance to bury you, or speak at your funeral, I will learn from this to give more second chances and stop hating you for what you put me through as a kid, and because you never gave me the opportunity to know the real “you” behind the mask of your lies. I hope you are at peace now and though I haven’t told you for years, “I love you”. I love you as the dad that I had before you and mom divorced, before you spiraled out of control and became a different person that I couldn’t stand to call “Dad”. If anyone is actually reading to this point-Don’t let this be you, and don’t let this happen to someone that you may have cut out of your life. Because life isn’t about what you have, or how much you have, it’s who you have to share life with that matters. And no matter what someone has done to you, when the end of their life comes, it’s not the hate of what they did to you that you feel, it’s the feeling that they didn’t get to make it right that you feel now. It’s the pain that comes from knowing there will never be a day to reconnect with them and give them the opportunity to right their wrongs. Or in my case, the pain from realizing I will never get to know the man behind the mask. But now, when people ask me about my parents, I can tell them my father has passed, and my mother lives in England, and I haven’t seen her in 10+ years but we are building a relationship. At least now I don’t have to keep worrying about you and hoping you are alright wherever you are in the world. I hope you are at peace now, and no matter our past, I will always be thankful that you and my mom brought me into this world. Because had you not, I wouldn’t have the beautiful family I am blessed with today.

immediate family

Angelina Sumner

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Angelina Sumner
Read next: The Four Clairs: Part One

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