father, friend

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To my father, who believes in me much more than I do:

You were my friend for possibly the first time in my life today. It’s not a bad thing, your job was always to pull out slivers and enforce the rules. Your job description didn’t include friendship. But today, as your voice crackled across the miles to meet mine, I almost forgot for a second that you used to be my sliver-puller and curfew-keeper.

My knuckles have seen better days. I don’t know if you heard it in my voice, but tonight as we talked I was laying on my bed with my eyes doing their best to stay dry. And as I told you what I find to be the annoying, the frustrating, the condemning parts of myself and my days, you listened. And cared. And told me you believed in me.

I was thinking the other day about the last time I learned something new and scary. I never learned how to ice-skate or skateboard or roller-blade, most likely because I possess the terrific combination of a fear of falling and a fear of failing, but I do know how to ride a bike. And that was because you pushed me, you held onto the bottom of my seat with your big hand and ran along side me, telling me I could do it. When you let go and shouted at me to keep-pedaling-keep-pedaling-keep-going, and I cried “I can’t”, you believed in me. You said I could. Someday maybe I will believe enough for myself. Someday maybe I’ll have to believe enough for both of us.

But for now it’s phone calls when I’m feeling lonelier than usual and it’s you telling me that I am something you love. We both know I’m self-critical way past the line of fault, but you never tell me to stop. You just enforce that I am loved. And maybe that is what love is- not jumping to smother the bad and ugly, but simply watering the good.

And when my head hurts and my chest tightens and I think the worst, I remember that you see the good. You are much more than I deserve.

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