When I was a child, I sat on the edge of a single bed and listened as my father told me how he was going on a business trip. He never came back. He was, in fact, moving out.
The nuclear family I had been born into died that day. The funeral was the day all of us kids were seated around a lawyer’s conference table when the divorce was final. They gave us odd lemon cream cookies. The sweet stale taste cemented that day in mind.
There is a lot more I don’t remember from those days. Trauma sometimes bestows the gift of memory lost. I don’t remember yelling at my mother blaming her for his absence. Or how things changed. One day they were just different.
I don’t remember even fragments of the first time I met Papa. Pictures remind me of the day that he married my mother and how he took me to college, all of my things packed in the back of his truck. He came to get me in the same truck after graduation and took me to Florida and a new life.
I was there the day he sold that truck. He was so happy that the man who brought it told him what his plans were. His beloved truck was going on to be a farm truck. The truck that had moved our family time and time again would be working gain.
Papa came into my life when I was 14 years old. He gave my mother back to me. He gave me another big brother in Eric. He gave me the family I lost in my parent’s divorce. I understood living with him after college that family life while scared isn’t easy and as he taught me what it was like to have a dad, I taught him what it was like having a daughter.
I was his daughter. My sister’s children his grandchildren and he adored them.
Papa died today in 2018. His life ending in Orlando, Florida surrounded by Momma, my brother Eric and myself. Three years and my heart doesn’t ache any less.
It aches even more for Momma who lost the love of her life. For my nieces and nephews who lost a grandfather loved them unconditionally.
Papa, I love you. Thank you for being my dad and healing parts of me that I didn’t know where broken until you were gone.