The Silent Pain of a Son
Fathers Against Abandoning Children
Dedicated to my sons, love y'all
"What terminology does a father use to apologize to his sons he abandoned?"
Like yesterday, I remember the way my middle son, J, used to stare into my eyes as if to silently say, my daddy, to me, I'm safe. I never seized the moment to sit down and bottle feed any of my children, really take time out to study their features, movements, their behaviors, because I was too busy running the damn streets, as if the streets was gonna reward me with more of a prize than my babies.
My middle son was born in 1989, three years before my departure to New York State prison system, So I did not get the chance to truly bond with my son, J, for too long. Our first visit was when he was about ten or eleven years of age. I was in Sullivan Correctional Facility (SCF) when I laid eyes on my son, J, and I was tongue tied- didn't know what the f#% to say to him because I knew he was angry with me, infuriated and confused by my abandoning him. Even though he, J, had no clue what abandonment really meant, J knew that I wasn't supposed to miss his first graduation from pre-school, or be absent from putting him on the school bus and being there to pick him up.
Finally, I built enough courage to hug J, and wrap my arms around him, of course, crying at the same time, and assuring him that I'll be a better father to him and his brothers, starting right now.
J looked into my eyes, as he always did, and said, nothing, nothing at all. This silent reply was sooo loud that I was intimidated by his empty stare, but , at the same time, I knew exactly what J was saying with no words- you better do the right thing, daddy, because right now I ain't feeling you.
As the visit proceeded, I focused on finding out exactly how J felt about me, and how I can begin to make things a little more comfortable for him to be able to confide in me about his pain, frustration, and emotions that were reserved for me, only me.
What I learned about J was that he loved to rap; was a rap artist, and a pretty good one. I didn't earn the privilege to get J to bust-a-rhyme for me due to my prior violations of abandoning him, and not protecting him from violence, psychological harm, or simply being there to witness his firsts. So I settle for him informing me of one of his passions, putting lyrics together and rapping.
J didn't say much to me during our visit, but he did say a lot with his eyes, like Who are you?
Are you really my father? Why did you leave me? Why are you in this place? When are you coming back home? J's eyes were overflowing with questions. . I could sense it. So I answered some of the curiosity, for example, when am I coming home, or Who %, at the time, I was still learning who I am. One thing I never did, and will NEVER do, is lie to any of my children. I don't care how much it may hurt me, I will always keep it real with my sons because I've done enough to emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually harm them by abandoning all my sons, and the rest of my family.
During our visits, my two beautiful siblings, K-boss and Webby, just sat there to comfort me because they both knew that my sons, especially J, was gonna ask me certain questions which were gonna be difficult for me to answer. To my surprise, J didn't yell or lash out at me, which made me believe that I have another chance to earn his love and affection. One thing I thank Allah for, out of many, is that he (Allah) allowed my sons to visit me many more times after that first visit.
My sons and I had a memorable moments during our Muslim festivals (Eid ul Fitr/Adha) where they all had the opportunity to establish prayer (Salat) with me; however, we were missing one of my sons, the youngest son, because of some misunderstandings with my ex-wife and I.
In all fairness to my sons, I have to say we have also had some emotional times during visits, for example, when J became older, he wanted to know why I left him. I tried to explain my past to J, but it was too much for him to take in or truly understand how my upbringing had affected my thought process, or decision making. I didn't understand or have the communication skills to break it down. In that case, I failed to help J understand, and so we drifted apart over the years, and remain distant to this day. (cryin')
My hopes, with all my sons one day, is for us to sit down and hash out our big and small differences so we can begin to heal, love one another, and be father and sons, for real, not just in terminology. To date, I still have not learned, or acquired the words, to answer the inquiry as to....my sons...as to why I left them.
What terminology does a father use to apologize to his sons he abandoned?