I still dream of Orgonon.
I wake up crying.
You're making rain,
And you're just in reach,
When you and sleep escape me.
The relationship between a father and a daughter is a pretty special one. Mine with my own was no different. We were like peas and carrots - we got on pretty swell.
I wasn't as close with my mother growing up as I am now. She and I just didn't see eye to eye on - well, anything, really. As a result, most of my heart-to-hearts happened with my father. He was the person I went to when I was troubled by a friend, or I wanted to know the whys and hows of things, or when I was heartbroken. Why is the sky blue, Daddy? Why do I feel so lonely sometimes, Daddy? Where do birds go in winter? Why did he break my heart, Daddy? Why? Why? Why?
If I went to my mother with these things, she would usually shrug the questions off, or tell me how I don't have it near as bad as she ever had it, or tell me that I just need to suck it up, and put on a smile, and just determine myself to be happy, because nobody was going to do it for me. That last bit makes sense to me now as an adult, but when I was little, half the time all I really wanted was a hug and some support. My father saw this need in me and gave me these things. He added a little more sunshine into my life, because I had a tendency to endure a lot of rain.
There is only one thing I ever told my mother, growing up, that I never told him. It was about my abuse. I wanted to protect him from being hurt. It wasn't that I instead felt the need to hurt her - she had questioned some irrational behavior in me as a teen, and kept prodding and prodding and the dam finally burst and I told her, and I wept like I've never wept since. And she held me, and comforted me, and there was only one thing she said. "Don't ever tell your father. It will break his heart to a million pieces."
My father always told me the truth, even if I didn't want to hear it. The advice he gave was always solid. I trusted him with every secret but the one that would hurt him most. He was my entire world, once upon a time.
But every time it rains,
You're here in my head,
Like the sun coming out
I know that the way I'm writing about him makes it sound like he's dead. This isn't the case - he is very much alive and well. What I'm talking about here is, the nature of our relationship and how it all changed.
About a decade ago now, my father sat me down. He had some things to tell me. He was having an affair on my mother. He wanted to tell me, in case I saw him out with her. He wanted my advice. He had already tried therapy, talking to his brother, his friends. None of them were giving him the answer he wanted, so he came to me.
I felt like ice, like the tiniest tap of a hammer would crack me into pieces. My relationship with my mother was volatile, to be sure, but this. Oh, this. I couldn't handle this. He told me that he still loved my mother, that he gave her everything she desired, and that this just... happened. But that he loved this other woman too, and felt as long as he took care of my mother, it would be okay.
I looked at him and did my best to disguise my disappointment, but I was crushed. I told him to look at it like this: he has a granddaughter, right? What if he were to give her all the toys in the world, but spend all his time with another little girl? How is that even remotely fair?
His turn to be crushed.
Lengthy conversations led to his confessing that this wasn't the first time he'd had an affair. I confessed to him that I already knew about that- I can still remember being little in my room at four in the morning and listening to them arguing and fussing and crying about it, but my mother resolved to stay, for our sakes. What I didn't know at the time, and know now, is that somewhere out there I have a half-brother. The affair had ended, but somewhere out there, there is kin that I'll probably never know.
Shortly after our talk, he ended the affair. He said he could not look himself in the mirror after seeing himself in my eyes that day. My parents remained together - after so many years together, and so many trials, they remained stalwart in their love for each other, even if it was a little skewed now and then. Slow road to reparation. My Dad and I still talked. I still went to him for advice. But something changed in me.
Oh God, Daddy -
I won't forget,
'Cause every time it rains,
You're here in my head
Fast forward a few years. My mother's father died. She called me at work, and told me with such calm. I started to cry. She then started to cry, and said "oh Grace I just never knew it would actually hurt me like this" and "is it ok to still hate him for all that he did?" and "Grace, don't you worry about it, you never knew this man, don't cry".
I didn't go to the funeral.
My father questioned me on this, and I couldn't answer him right away. I called my mother that night, telling her that I had had enough - he needed to know. She told me I shouldn't, it had been too long, what was the point? I told her that the point was, I had this secret crushing me for over a decade, and I didn't want it to go on anymore. Our family was too full of hurtful secrets, and I'd had enough. She relented and said that she was just being selfish asking me not to tell him, and to do what I thought best.
Dam ready to break. I called him over to my home. I was already crying when I called, so he came immediately.
I told him exactly why I wouldn't go to my mother's dad's funeral. How could I possibly mourn a man who abused his daughters like that? He didn't understand. Then I dropped the bomb. "Daddy, I couldn't go and mourn that man, when he did to them what someone else did to me."
Snap. You could hear his heart rending. Something inside him broke that day, like cloudburst.
Years. He hadn't even cried at his own father's funeral - he cried enough that day to cover years of hurt. I aged him by a hundred years that day.
He went home, broke things, yelled at my mother for keeping it from him. He called me, begged me to tell him why, why didn't I trust him? Why didn't I tell them when it happened? Why? Why? Why?
I felt just awful. Cried for days, was a complete wreck at work. But even though I felt awful, I also felt lighter. Something inside me understood now why he must have felt the need to tell me about his affair - however wrong it was to involve his daughter in his drama, he needed to do it, because he had never lied to me, save for that one thing. Quid pro quo, I suppose.
It's you and me... Daddy
Since then, our relationship, while stronger than ever, has changed. He never mentions what happened, not even a whisper. All that needed to be said about it was said that day. We move on, but he looks at me with different eyes. He finally sees why I was inexplicably sad growing up. How I would end up shouldering things, shutting things in. Making rash decisions when it came to relationships. Taking longer to get out of said relationships than I probably would have, otherwise. So many, many things explained in one rainy evening.
He sees in me the strength he never knew I had. He sees that I smile, and live on, I mean really live. He makes extra effort to make me laugh, tell me a funny story. He wants more sun in my life, and by golly he does everything in his power to give me this.
While the song written by Kate Bush years ago doesn't jive with my story, even so, whenever I hear this song, I think of my father.
And every time it rains
You're here in my head
Like the sun coming out.
lyrics by Kate Bush