This post is in response to Prompt #5 from Lightening & the Lightening Bug, called "A Letter to You." The instructions were as follows:
Write a letter to yourself at age sixteen. What might you tell your sixteen year-old self? Would you warn yourself not to make a certain mistake? Would you ask yourself to treasure being young? Would you tell yourself how much you've changed? You can write the letter from your present self, or from someone else entirely. Feel free to take this in an unexpected direction.
Well, I definitely took it in an unexpected direction. Also, for those who have been waiting for some answers about a certain crime I mentioned on my creative writing post last week, look no further. It's all here, in black and white.
Please understand that this is not a topic that is for the faint-of-heart. It is not my usual humorous or uplifting piece, so please plan to read one of my funny or lighter-hearted posts right after. I don't want to leave anybody feeling down!!!
This is your Daddy. It might be difficult to imagine, but I am sending you this letter from the future. I am writing from a time almost two decades ahead of you, a time when you are a 34-year-old happy wife and mother of two beautiful children, and I am on my deathbed. I must tell you this now, before it is too late.
Do not allow what has been done to you, to define who you are, or who you become.
You are my firstborn, E, and a beloved daughter of God. You are of infinite worth, in His eyes and in mine. At this point in your life, you probably don't believe that I feel this way.
In your late teenage years and early 20s, you will most definitely not believe it.
But I have a strong feeling that at my present time, as I lie here struggling to breathe, you do believe it. You know I feel that way and it breaks your heart.
For now, though, just be prepared. In your future there is going to be a very long spell - several years' time, in fact - during which you and I will not even be speaking to one another. Please don't get me wrong; I will long to talk with you very much, but you will have distanced yourself from me... and wisely so, I'm afraid.
You see, I know it's hard to imagine now, but I will be leading a life that is not exactly suitable for grandchildren and Sunday barbecues. I will be surrounded by filthy circumstances, hounded by angry pimps, dealers, and the law.
The people I love most, including you, will not be looking for me anymore. You will want to, that is for sure… but it is not safe enough.
But before all that there will come a time that you will just plain hate me. You will hate me with a passion you're not even capable of feeling at this point in your young life.
And then, thankfully, you will accept Jesus Christ into your life and your heart, and you'll forgive me. But do I deserve it? I can't forgive myself.
I wish I could go back and start over for you, at least from that fateful moment last year. I know that it hurts to hear about it while it is still so fresh in your memory. But you need to know that I regret what I did. What I said.
Oh, you were only fifteen years old! So innocent, so trusting.
You came straight to me that day, blaming yourself.
Just because you had been alone in his room with him!! Just because that was against our rules!
Oh Eden, it wasn't your fault.
It wasn't your fault sweetheart. I know that in my current time, you know it wasn’t your fault. But in your current time, the year of your sweet sixteen, you still very much believe that it was.
I shudder to think of the faith you had in me, your willingness to tell me anything ...your secret hope that I could somehow glue together the shattered pieces of your virtue.
Instead I tore apart the tiny shred that was left of your innocence. I confirmed your belief that what he did to you was your fault!
The sickening sound of my own voice as I called you that name - it plays through my head to this day.
I betrayed your confidence in me as your father. Your confidence (what was left of it) in men. Your confidence in yourself.
I know that I should, but I have never forgiven myself. That pivotal moment was the beginning of the end for me, the reason I ended up turning to drugs and began the slow, painful trek toward ridding the earth of my detestable presence.
And now, as I said earlier, I am on my deathbed. Heroin, crack, meth... they've finally gotten the best of me.
I will be 61 years old in a couple of weeks, if I make it that far. I had a massive heart attack this past January, and a stroke last month. The doctors say my heart is too damaged for them to operate safely.
And so my end is finally, blessedly near.
You called me in the hospital after the heart attack, and I was having one of my rare moments of clarity. You let me talk to those precious grandchildren. They sounded so happy to hear my voice!
You must have spoken highly of me, for them to be excited like that. I don’t feel I deserve it, but I can’t begin to tell you how grateful I am.
I know that this moment has obviously not come for you yet, that I am speaking to you from such a distant future that—at this point in your life—it is hard to imagine at all. But it will come.
Oh, it will come.
And when it does, when all the pain you feel now has passed, when the only pain that is left is the pity you feel for your dear old broken down dad…
Please have faith in me again. Have faith that somewhere, deep down, I am still a good person. Believe that I love you and that God loves me. The Lord lifted your burden, and He will lift mine. Pray that He will forgive me for hanging onto it for so long.
I love you, dear Eden.