Warning: If you’re familiar with and despise Tik Tok story times that make you watch part 1
before watching part 2, I’m sorry to be that person.
“Mom, where’s the kids?” I asked, with a mixture of confusion and frustration taking over my
brain. Somehow, I knew what she was going to say. Please don’t say it... oh God, she’s
“YOU are the kids! Your dad is back!” she said. “Huh??” My sister asked. I looked at her,
wondering why she even bothered asking. My mom tried explaining. My dad was sick and went
away to get help, and he was better now. But I couldn’t hear her. We’d been duped. And the
duper was sitting on the couch. Here he is again, I thought. I should be happy, but my
expectations were that... well, they didn’t matter anymore. They didn’t matter when he left.
They didn’t matter before I walked through that door. They didn’t matter now, as I looked at him
with his rugged beard, white T-shirt and jeans, hair that could’ve used a haircut and eyes
slightly red like he had been crying. I’ll never forget the look on his face. He tried to smile, but
shame peered through instead. That was the first moment I realized he wasn’t leaving for
something good. And he wasn’t just sick. Things would never be normal again. I ran to him and
hugged him, acting excited, hoping it would make him feel better. But inside, all I could think
was, “But where’s the kids?”
Three years later, the inevitable happened. I was 11 years old, we had just moved to a new
town and I was ready to embark on a new adventure. I heard the word “divorce” thrown around
with a lot of my new friends. How they went back and forth between their parents’ houses and
how much it sucked. But hey, two Christmases, right? Whew, I’m glad that’s not me, I thought
to myself. Well, remember what they say about pride?
One night, my mom called us into her bedroom, a manilla envelope in front of her. She’d been
crying, which was nothing new. We hugged her and asked what was wrong. She said “You
guys know I love your dad very much...” Somehow, I knew what she was going to say. Please
don’t say it... oh God, she’s saying it... “But we’re getting a divorce.”
That moment was definitive for me. As sad as I was to hear it, I was concerned about my younger sister and three-year-old brother. My dad hadn’t been home in a long time, and I wondered how this could happen without him? (It didn’t by the way.) Does he know? If he did, why didn’t he fight for us? I have to admit, I was also upset about the stigma of divorce being our family’s reality. How embarrassing - my dad, a preacher, gone. But the actual divorce, how it would affect my family, I was determined to go to war for that. I consoled my mother when she played worship music, crying on the floor. My sister and I looked after my little brother when needed -no way was he going to follow in my dad’s shoes. Not on my watch. With my older brother out of the house, I was next line. I wasn’t a man, but to me, by definition that just meant I wasn’t leaving my mother.
"... if there was anything she vowed, it was that she would NEVER marry him again."
Five years went by. Ages 11-12, I finally learned the truth about my dad’s drug addiction, and
my mom placed my sister and me in counseling for kids whose parents were going through a
divorce (thanks Mom!).
Age 13: daddy missed my 13th birthday party. My 13th birthday. He just wasn’t able to make it.
Too sick, he said. I know what that means, I thought. But instead, I said, “It’s ok daddy!”
Age 14: “Honey, you may not have your dad, but God can be your dad. He loves you SO
much, and He’ll never leave you,” my mom said. So, I did just that. Mainly to prove her wrong.
But lo and behold, God became Daddy God, and boy did I let Him have it! I prayed and
journaled about the ups and downs of my day. I cried to Him about all the boys who didn’t like
me. Was I too tall? Or too dark? Why can’t boys just love me the way I “love” them? Why can’t
my dad love me? I prayed, asking Him to send messages to my dad of how much I loved him
and didn’t give up on him. At times, I visualized my dad’s funeral and wondered if that was the
next time I’d see him. What songs would he like? What would I be able to say, if I don’t know
him anymore? I prayed above all else, that my dad would be healthy and live to see old age. I
wanted my hero back.
Age 15: Dad moved back into town and stayed with a friend after living in Alabama a few years.
We visited every now and then, watching Disney moves and playing. It was nice. Not what it
was when I was little, but my dad seemed healthy and happy, and my mom had just bought her
first house. All was well in my book. “I could get used to this,” I thought to myself. But, my dad
couldn’t. Every time we left before heading back to my mom’s, my dad would say the same
thing he’d said since I was 11: “I’m believing God, by faith, for my family back. One day, your
mom and I will be married again. I promise I WILL make this right. Will you believe that with
me?” I said I did, and I meant it for a few years, but I knew my mom. And if there was anything
she vowed, it was that she would NEVER marry him again.
Age 16... the unbelievable happened.