Fatherless Child

Fatherless Child by Tressa Sanders

There are times when one cannot even begin to comprehend the frailty of the human psyche. It is at these times when cruelty becomes the weapon of choice; its force twisting and burrowing into the depths of one’s mind; pulling from it, its worst fears; its deepest insecurities. What then does the world see of the wounded? The tear-stained faces of our babies; lips curled and quivering are forever commonplace among us. Our anger radiates in every direction and knows no boundaries.

I thought about these things, looking on. I watched his lips shape the words. I listened to them carefully. First they sang in whispered slow motion in my mind; then in an amplified scream.

“I will never love you”. The words were strong and deep as they slipped from his throat. I thought I’d seen a smile slide across his lips as he spoke. I’m sure of it, but in these situations one can hardly trust their eyes. A familiar, searing pain penetrated my frame. My body shook as it always had from the internalization of deep emotion I have yet to learn how to express. Had I not spent all my life hoping for his love those words might not hurt as much. Had I not endured many tearful nights praying to be saved by a father I had never met, I would not now be on the edge of insanity. No strength left to pull from internally as my mother made sure of that long ago. Do you think cruelty knows of the power of hopelessness or the sadness of loneliness? In a society of fantasy and selfishness, cruelty spreads easily without cure, hopelessness is embraced without hesitation and loneliness kills without prejudice.

My thoughts swirled lazily around my head, unable to stabilize should I find myself unable to handle it. But I am past that. I had spent a year and several hundred dollars searching for him. I imagined a life with at least one reliable source of love and support. Before I met him, there was always a chance of having that and it was a risk I was willing to take. I gambled and lost. Something I am used to but yet whose effects I am not immune from. My worst fear took shape in the sound from his lips. I studied the deep lines of age on his handsome face. At the insistence of his wife, we spoke for many hours. Him asking me question after question about my mother whom he had adored. He held on to a side of her I had never known and his love for that image of her left no room for loving me. I had tried to tell him of the beatings she gave, the rapes she allowed; the verbal assault she enjoyed. He would hear nothing of it; telling me from his own lips and heart that he would never speak badly of her. If only he knew the consequences of his refusal to acknowledge my suffering.

I had spent many years wondering what he would be like. I had imagined him to be kind, and nurturing, understanding and strong, yet he was none of that. Instead I found a man unable to stand up for what he believed in. His immaturity allowed him to abandon his responsibilities. He told me of the seven children he had fathered and of the six mothers to whom they belonged; including myself. He told me of his own desire to do what he wished and insisted that it had been my destiny to find him as though he were some god I would be lost without. I learned of a son he’d also never met, whose mother died while he was still a child. His life had left him sitting within the walls of the prison system. I made a new spot inside myself for his pain. Like me, he was a Fatherless child.

I hadn’t realized I was holding my breath until a sleepy lightheadedness caused me to sway. He caught me by the elbow and I quickly recovered, breathing long, deep breaths, trying to focus on the rest of his words. He did not acknowledge the cruelty in his voice, even as tears slid in rivers down my cheeks. He spoke so matter-of-factly as though he were speaking of someone other than me. I loved him before I had met him. It was not a knowing love like that between a parent and a child while it’s being raised, but a simple, connection through kinship love. He felt nothing for his own child and that I did not understand. He had known me for a while and had even held me on occasion at an age which I cannot recall any memory of him. He walked away as though I belonged to someone else to be raised by the hands of hatred.

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