“not once,” i whisper. “not once did you or mum come into my room, sit on my bed and say sorry. not once did you ask me how i was doing; why i was hurting myself, and what you could do to help.”
his eyes are hazel-sorry behind rimmed wire, and we’re sitting at my kitchen table, dad and i, two decades later. it’s been 20 years, and only now, am i saying this.
he looks down at hands worn, 55-year-old hands, hands that fix. he is a tender man, but i hadn’t seen that then. i’d only seen the way he didn’t have time for me. the way he’d poured into ministry and sermons and spanking. i’d just seen a man who couldn’t understand me, who’d told me to eat and then sent me to counselors who’d pretended to care, when i knew they were being paid to.
but i should have looked harder. i should have seen the way he’d taught us french and sang us songs at bedtime and sat outside our bedroom door, reading, when thunderstorms scared us awake, and the way he’d eventually begun ‘dating’ his daughters, taking them for cinnamon buns at ann’s cafe and even though it had been hard to talk, even then, at least he’d tried.
and that’s all we faulty parents can do. lean hard into grace, and try, with the breath of a desperate prayer and a heart so very humble…
“would you have known what to say, though?” he asks. “i think that’s why we didn’t do that. why we didn’t ask. we were afraid of your reaction.”
i shake my head. “i probably wouldn’t have had the words,” i admit, “but the effort, the trying to see things from my side, the sitting there and holding me and apologizing, that would have really helped.” i pause. “i don’t think it would have taken me as long to want to get better, if only you hadn’t tried to fix me. if only you’d taken time to sit with me in the pain.”
i put dishes away and then turn as he begins to speak. “i see now,” he says, slow. “i see how, even if you hadn’t had the words, the very action of us trying to care would have made a difference. i’m so sorry.”
and those words. that long-awaited apology, peel back layers and healing begins, in a deeply rooted spiritual way that no food can ever fill.
entering into the darkness: walking in pain with your child when all you want to fix them. this, refusing to try and take control, but trusting God with life and death and everything in between while simply sitting, holding and saying “sorry” will do more for your little one than any amount of anything else.
…for more on the importance of walking with someone in sadness, read this post.
… and for more videos and discussion questions on how to walk in balance and healing, visit here.