Shaba, a single mom of two, is a teacher of 18 years with a BA in Psychology and a Master's Degree in Curriculum and Development.
From Freedom to Frantic
It was just like any other day in the life of a mom. After a full day of work, I picked the kids up from school, raced home to help with homework, make dinner and then soccer practice- That's right..we are superheros! When the phone rang, I thought it was a scam call or collector, because who really calls people nowadays. But no. I was not expecting this phone call at all. When I got the news that my biological father was in the hospital on his "death bed", the feeling that took over my body was full.... blown... ANXIETY. I had made a conscience decision in my twenties to NEVER let this man affect my life again. I had broken free from his alcoholism, lies, and deceit. But when the reality hit me that he was about to leave this world forever, a full-range of emotion smacked me right in the face.
It felt like I was in a tornado of emotion pulling me hard in every direction. What the hell was I supposed to do now? In my mind, he had died a long time ago. It took all my courage to accept that my father had abandoned my life. I had moved on and felt strong (which I learned later in life was NOT really the case at all! #damaged #daddyissues)
SOMETIMES WE'RE TESTED. NOT TO SHOW OUR WEAKNESSES, BUT TO DISCOVER OUR STRENGTHS ~UNKNOWN
The Anxiety Surfaced Like a Monster
Have you ever experienced the "ugly" cry? You know, the kind that creeps up when you are washing dishes, hear a song, or while taking a shower (the absolute best place to have one by the way!). After the initial shock of hearing ANYTHING about my dad for the first time in a decade, I succumbed to the ugly cry. The drop down to your knees, grabbing your stomach, sobbing cry. The fact of the matter was, I knew I had to face him before he left this Earth. What do you say to the man that was an alcoholic for most of your life? The one who never showed up to a high school soccer game, or worse not to one college soccer game. What do you say to the one who made you fear all men or to the man who has never met his own grandchildren. The one who did not come to your college graduation, or who did not walk you down the aisle at your wedding? And yet, he is still your "daddy" in a sick twisted way. You still love him for a reason that you can not explain. There is a fine line between love and hate.
The Moment I was Dreading
Breathe...just breathe. As the nurse guided my sister and me into the hallway where he lay just a few yards away, a voice in my head started screaming "No! I can't do this! What am I going to say? Will I have the courage to finally speak my mind? Will he even care that we are there?" It was like anxiety reached it's ugly hands up and started choking me right then and there. "Living with anxiety is like being followed by a voice. It knows all of your insecurities and uses them against you. It gets to the point when its the loudest voice in the room. The only one that you can hear." ~Unknown. When the door swung open to his room, I was expecting to see my rather handsome father laying there with his jet black hair and tan skin. But that's not what I saw at all. Who was this man? Laying in front of us was a frail man with a long white beard and sunken eyes. He had tubes and wires connected to him and he couldn't have been more than 90 pounds at six-foot-two. My sister and I stood in front of this stranger with lips trembling, tears streaming down our faces, and the uncontrollable shaking. It wasn't until those familiar brown eyes looked over at us that my first words fell out of my mouth. "Hey dad." I didn't recognize my own child-like voice.
Love Will Set You Free
The man in front of me was a very sick man, a different man, a man that I suddenly felt sorry for. Not only was he almost unrecognizable due to his illness, but he was different. This was not the alcoholic father that laid his big massive hands on me, or the one who commented on my breasts as I was going through puberty. He was not the man with a can in his hand, or the one that set an opossum and her babies on fire in front of me when I was little. This was a gentle old man, tarnished by drugs and alcohol. This was a man full of sorrow and remorse in his older eyes. This was a lonely man that had no one left in the world that cared about him. And my heart suddenly burst with EMPATHY for him. "There is a fine line between love and hate. Love frees a soul and in the same breath can sometimes suffocate it." ~Cecilia Ahern. In the end... love won! I had a couple months left with the man that disappointed me over and over again. But like the quote states, love frees the soul. I decided to forgive my father. I forgave him for his disease that took control of most of his life. I forgave him for his choices and his deceit. And it was LIBERATING! We spent the last couple months helping him stay comfortable. I brought my two children in to meet their grandfather for the first and last time. His death was bittersweet to say the least. I finally made a connection to my "daddy" in his last days. It was a long time, but forgiving him saved me!