Sunday, June 21, 2015

Happy Half There & Gone Day

People used to tell me I should feel lucky. I got to have two dads while a lot of my friends only had one, or worse, none. I spent my childhood constantly having to distinguish between which dad I was talking about. I didn't want to offend one dad if I called the other dad "dad" in front of that dad. It's just about as complicated as it sounds. I was envied and I could never understand why.

My step-dad was not a perfect person. He yelled on more than one occasion and he wasn't always the nicest guy. I used to hate how he'd play favorites with my brothers since they were biologically his kids. But I still don't think I ever appreciated him enough for all of the things he did right. Pete taught me how to throw a football. He was there when I fell behind the stands during cheerleading and cut my knee. He bought me the Britney Spears barbie I wanted (the one in the red leather suit from the Lucky music video). He took me to my softball games sometimes (for the whole one year that I played). And sure, maybe he never came to a choir concert and maybe he said "no" to a lot of things and it pissed me off, but my step-dad took care of me.

And then there's my biological dad, who spent the majority of my childhood in foreign countries in the Army. Phone call here, email there. Chad was the "cool" dad, always buying fancy gifts and sending foreign souvenirs. There are a lot of elements to our relationship that have created the wall between us, and I will take blame for the bitterness that still exists on my end, but there are many reasons why I'd still argue our relationship would have been better had he actually put being a father before money when I was growing up.

I never really had that "daddy" connection with either of my dads. I would get really uncomfortable when Chad would come visit because he seemed to have this bond with me that I just didn't have with him - I still feel this way sometimes. He'd just come back home on leave and expect to play dad for a week or two and then leave again. I got used to it as I got older, but I still feel like that's something a child should never have to "get used to." And Pete never really felt like "daddy" because I always knew that he wasn't my biological dad and I wasn't sure if I was even allowed to feel that way because my biological dad was still in my life.

And then Pete passed away, and my whole life flipped around. The two-dad lifestyle I had that everyone envied so much came to a screeching halt and became a nightmare no one wanted to live through. Chad missed out on my childhood and now Pete has to miss out on my adulthood and all the while I'm left here to figure out how I'm supposed to feel about it. People think it's great that I still have a dad left, but what they don't realize is I still lost one and that still hurts.

No matter what, I will always appreciate both of my dads for the things they do and did, but I would be lying if I said I appreciated them both the same or as much as anyone else appreciates their dads. It's hard to celebrate someone who is half-there and someone who isn't there anymore. And I refuse to only celebrate my biological dad more simply because he is alive. A simple "Happy Father's Day" text and a "Happy Father's Day" prayer will do.

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