To The Parents I Never Had

by Chelsea Donahue

I know it isn’t your fault you’re not here. Decisions made as teenagers that brought you to the places you exist now are the reason I don’t have the Hallmark memories I so desperately crave. But all the student debt and psychology classes in the world haven’t helped me forgive you. There are moments I wanted as a child, Dad teaching me how to drive or Mom snapping photos on prom night. When the holidays roll around, I scrape together scattered and fading childhood memories to create a single good, wholesome moment, and for a second it is there – the family I always needed.

There are substantial moments in my life when I needed you and the pain comes most heavily in being an adult and understanding that my fundamental flaws stem from the moments you both so selfishly deprived me of.

When I turned sixteen and got my first job, nobody was there to deter me from blowing my paychecks on acrylic nails and Cheetos. I didn’t have a father to try and stop me from dating the first boy who so destructively broke my young heart, or a mother to pour over college applications with me. There was nobody there to cry to when I got engaged, and nobody for my future husband to ask for permission to pop that question. There was no mother to plan a wedding with, no father to walk me down the aisle. Nobody to teach me about credit or careers, and nobody to hold me and tell me everything would work out when I saw my first positive pregnancy test. But these moments pale in comparison to the fact you weren’t there to teach me how to survive the soul crushing emotional damage caused when I lost you.

It’s a scene on repeat in my mind, even now, years later, haunting me in a way that can eclipse even the brightest of sunny days. You aren’t here to walk me through the maze that is life, helping me handle being an adult without a parent to turn to when my days are long and hard. I’ve spent years pretending that you are out there somewhere, but the truth hits like a ton of bricks when I pick up the phone and there is no number to dial.

On my worst days, Christmas, Thanksgiving and the moments in between, I beg the stars for you, for a message or a sign that you had hopes and dreams for the daughter you couldn’t put first. I wonder if you looked at your precious baby girl the way I do mine and constructed a life of happiness and laughter for her. I question if, in your last moments or hours of reality, if there were regrets in leaving someone who relied so heavily on guidance she would never receive.

I wonder if the day will come and you’ll be there, on the other end of the line, to call me home for a turkey dinner and a night of reminiscing in front of the fire place. But you’re not there and it won’t happen, so I stumble through life with a heavy heart and memories created from a fantasy.

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