This will be my last letter to you.
I was very young when you left the first time but I was one of the lucky ones because someone did come into my life when I was 4, stepped up and took on what you clearly couldn’t and has not left once in the past 25 years.
The first few years you were gone, I had asthma attacks so bad that I would get sick and he was who held my hair and rubbed my back for me. When I fell and scraped my knee, he was the one kissing my “boo boo’s” better and putting the 101 Dalmatians band aids on my knee, you probably didn’t even know I was obsessed with the 101 Dalmatians. How about all of those soccer games you told me on the phone that you’d come to, my mom and him would sit there with me waiting for you to show even well after my game had finished but you’d never end up showing up.
I did this to SO many photos as I was growing up, any photo that you were in – I took you out. You didn’t want to be a part of my life, why would I want the memory of you in my photos?
You came back about 3 years later, I was 7 years old and you had married my step mom. She had 2 sons, which provided me with two big brothers. I remember the first few times I had to go visit you, I didn’t want to go. My step mom and her boys made it easier on me and when I had to go visit you, I’d only go willingly because I’d get to see them. After a couple years of visiting you, you two ended up splitting and just like that, you were gone once again. This time it was much longer… I was in a car accident that could have taken my life, my grandma passed away, I graduated 5th grade, I graduated middle school, I had a sweet 16, I survived high school and received a full ride scholarship for college basketball. All without you, the one thing you did was give me an awesome step mom and you denied the ability for my step dad to adopt me when it was requested by my parents. Hell, you had no idea my step mom was and still is a major part in my life, she came to my sweet 16 and my graduation party…she even drove into town to take me to lunch before I left for college!
I was in my freshman year of college, 1200+ miles from home and you wrote to me from jail. You called me the “apple of my eye”, how could anyone; ESPECIALLY a father who hasn’t been in their kids life even consider saying that? Despite everything screaming inside me to not reply, I wrote you back anyways, we wrote a handful of letters back and forth but you never asked about me. You always spoke of doing better and being better, the thing about apologies is without action, they are nothing more than manipulation.
Changed behavior, that is a genuine apology.
Years went by, I found out you had another ex wife who you had 2 children with after my step mom. I was able to contact her, she told me why y’all split several years earlier and wow…just wow. I realized then, in that moment you would never change. When I was in high school, you told her that my mom was letting me come to stay with y’all, she spent her own money to get my room ready for me… little did she know you hadn’t seen me since I was 8 years old. I was able to meet my half siblings a couple years ago and they’re amazing, they’re brilliant and bright and smart as can be. They’re so strong and so caring, their mom should be so proud of the children she’s raised. Just as my mom and dad are proud of the woman I am becoming, the woman they have raised.
We (you and I) were friends on Facebook until about 3 years ago, I don’t remember when I realized you had deleted me. I just know it was after I posted the video of me asking my step dad to adopt me on Christmas morning. That man, he is a father, a hero, a best friend, a fishing buddy and most importantly MY DAD. So yes, I am no longer an Aaron, I am Cayla Worley and I am proud, happy and honest. I am strong and part of that is from you leaving in the ways you did, so thank you. You Mr. Aaron, you’ve brought children into this world and left them with others… the “why” and the “excuses” don’t matter because us children you’ve left, we’ve got dad’s now. We’re good now.