By Lilianna Smith
Thirty-eight messages from my Dad sit in my voicemail box unheard. I have missed every call and text from him since December 2019. I don’t think I can follow that truth with any words other than “I am a terrible daughter”. When my dad texts or calls me, the overwhelming feeling of guilt consumes me. I don’t know why I don’t call him. When I was in the 7th grade my parents divorced and I learned that my Dad’s frontal lobe didn’t work. I think for a long time I have tried to escape that truth.
I don’t want him to die. He lives alone in rural North Carolina in an apartment filled with expensive things. Why won’t he help me pay for college but he will buy me a guitar, piano, or anything I ask for? Why does he confuse the names of my sisters when we go to the movies? And why did the court tell us he wasn’t allowed to drive? Why did I let him drive me anyways? Was it his trusting blue-gray eyes with the distinct, long crow’s feet lines? Or was it the guilt of knowing that my father is sick when he has already forgotten my middle name and I’m not talking?
He must think I hate him. How could I let the man who came to every theater performance, every volleyball tournament, and every choir concert think that I hate him? As I sat and did nothing during quarantine I heard every text notification and saw every call come in. Every time I would turn my phone over, turn the music up louder, smoke a little more, and drown out the world.
I find myself talking about him all of the time. He taught me how to listen, ask good questions, and make true connections with people. He has always encouraged me to pursue my dreams no matter what they are. When I told him I wanted to be a designer, he offered me his own laptop and bought me an Adobe membership. To this day, even when I don’t utter a word to him, he supports my dreams. I don’t think I even realize the depth of my own selfishness. Am I a monster?
In moments of clarity, I have had time to reflect and wonder what a future will look like with him in it. When I close my eyes I see him taking pictures on his iPhone, asking me what my favorite color is, and seeing him smile when I say green. I have his eyes. They are blue-gray with a green inner circle encompassing the pupil.
I dyed my hair green the other day, I think I’ll send him a photo.
Lilianna Smith is a sophomore majoring in graphic design and French.