I may not know your name but we’ve known each other since I was a little boy. In fact, you and I have been best friends since the time my dad left the first time.
Do you remember that day? Do you remember the day that mom and dad sat you down and changed how you looked at things forever? I do. I don’t remember exactly what was said. I just remember that it didn’t matter. Things were going to be different. Forever.
I wasn’t sure if the sight of my mom laying under the kitchen table on a bed of shattered glass would be better than my dad leaving. That was the first time I had asked anyone if this person in front of me was dead. Even though they fought a lot I still felt safe. I knew where I was going to go to bed every night. I knew where I was going to eat. I went to a great school where I felt loved. More importantly, I felt secure.
That security was shattered after that sit-down talk. I moved from relative to relative at different times. I remember once waking up on Christmas day being scared to death that there wasn’t going to be anything under the tree for me. Uncle Frank made sure there was. I had to change schools. I can still remember the smell and sounds of being a forgotten face in a crowd eating lunches that made me sick to my stomach and working on fractions that I couldn’t understand. And just like the name of the school that hung on the outside wall of P.S. 153, I was now just a number. I was number two.
I was number two since my older sister was number one in receiving the letter that my dad had married again before he had left for the states. He married the girl he had introduced us to the day before. We weren’t even sure who she was or why we were hanging out with her. After my sister tore into her room nearly destroying everything in a fit of rage she handed the letter to me. That’s when I became number two. I then handed the letter to my younger sister. She couldn’t read yet so she became number three.
As the years went by the only thing that my mom could see was him and all the hurt that he had caused her by leaving. She was blinded to the point where a screwdriver being driven into my hand by her tirade bore no guilt. After all, I was only number two. The few times that number two was number one were confusing when a genuine hug or an “I love you” was followed by a broom handle to the head.
As number two I never had a bedroom to call my own. My hair was awfully cut and the hand-me-downs still smelled like someone else’s sweat. I remember going to a church for groceries and the Salvation Army for toys.
Most people think that you and I are like everybody else. We are not. You and I might go through life assuming that no one wants to talk to us when we enter a room and being used to that.
People think that divorce is not a big deal. Everybody is doing it. Getting a divorce is like changing your socks. People think that the heartache doesn’t last forever. It does. A family member told me once that I needed to grow out of it. Her parents were still married. If someone ever tells you that ask them if they know what it’s like to jump out of a plane without a parachute. Politely tell them to please try it.
I know that for years to come you’ll be asking yourself one question.
The answer is simple. Selfishness. Not only does it take hard work to stay married but staying together boils down to one thing. It’s a decision. Now if your mom is being physically hurt or emotionally abused by your dad then she shouldn’t stay. I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about dads that leave because they’re too lazy to work it out. I’ve seen more and more of this lately and it makes me very sad. No one deserves to be alone.
This is not your fault.
I was angry with my dad for leaving. But I also had the wrong ideas about who he was. It wasn’t until a year before his passing that I could see in his eyes that he hoped that I would forgive him. He was set free that day from that guilt and left for the last time knowing that I loved him. It took him a long time to get there but he got there.
Now that you know why it happened, it’s time to move forward. It’s time to decide for yourself that despite the bad cards that you’ve been given that you will not do what a parent of yours may have done. That you’ll look at yourself in the mirror and know that you’re better than that because of who you are. It’s time to decide that with every day comes a chance for you to share a laugh with someone that is sitting next to you. Decide that with every day you’ll become a better person than you were yesterday and make the shift from asking why to looking ahead. That you’ll see things through different eyes and make every decision with love as its motive. Decide that you’ll laugh a lot more than you were allowed to.
It’s time to break the trend and think along the lines of giving and not taking and yes if that means that by relying on God that you can accomplish great things then that’s not a bad thing. Sometimes there’s more hurt than the heart can handle by itself. Not because you’re second best or deserving of anything less but simply because you’re not number two.
You’re number one.
You will get through this. And you will be happy.
Decide to start now. I did and I couldn’t be happier. I take that back, I could be happier if I had some cherry pie in front of me.
I love cherry pie. Cherry crumb pie to be exact.
Leonardo Ramirez is an author of Science Fiction and Fantasy. Visit leonardoverse.com for info! Jupiter Chronicles is available now.
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