Had she known that he was going to die today… things would have been different. She would have called, would have asked forgiveness, would have… There were so many things she would have said. Now, she was staring at the the answering machine, wondering if what she’d heard could really be the truth. She didn’t really feel any emotion, only shock, wonder, a hollow emptiness in her heart where the bitterness had once been.
Amy and her father hadn’t spoken in two years, and neither of them, to be blatantly honest, really knew why. Both were just too stubborn to admit that they were wrong. To Amy, the distance hadn’t been one so much of anger, but of awkwardness, a resistance to listen to each other. Granted, Amy had made some decisions that her father hadn’t agreed with. She had fallen madly in love with a military man, and as a result, moved across the country with her new husband. Sure, she could have called, written, sent birthday cards, but she had been so absorbed in her new life that she couldn’t seem to find the time.
Truthfully, she hadn’t been the only one to make a few mistakes. Amy’s dad had left her three siblings and her mother when she was just nine years old, and that was something that she had always resented. He had never requested to have her visit, that was just part of the deal that her mother made to get some time away from the kids. When she did spend the weekend at his house, they didn’t go to the park, or attend church, or watch movies together. No, her father worked later hours than usual, just so the kids would be in bed by the time he got home.
So who had the most fault in ruining their relationship? Amy couldn’t decide. For the first time, she felt guilty for not caring, for not trying when she had the chance. She felt a dam crumble inside of her; the tears soon followed. She didn’t know if she could live with knowing that because she shirked her responsibility as a daughter, she hadn’t been able to say goodbye. As the sobs got louder and louder, the pain only grew. Through the tears, she emailed her boss, telling him she needed some time off, that she couldn’t function like this. She cried herself to sleep.
She went on like that for two weeks, could hardly eat, was too tired to think. She felt like a shell of what she used to be, empty. It was as if all of her emotion had been destroyed. No one tried to console her anymore; she supposed they all thought she was a lost cause. Though she didn’t show it, she desperately wanted encouragement, someone to tell her that everything would be alright, that she had done what she could, that she wasn’t to blame. One day, she got a text from an old friend, someone else she hadn’t spoken to in a long time, years in fact. It was Pat Greshman, a former high school friend, that was, before she became… strange. Pat had been her best friend until she “found religion”. That was when she told Amy that she couldn’t hang out with her anymore because she was “too holy”. At least that was what Amy heard. She knew it wasn’t true that Pat didn’t care for her anymore, it was just that, well, something had changed her. She didn’t depend on the drugs or the guys or the parties anymore. It was as if she had finally found what it was she was looking for, and never wanted to leave it.
Amy remembered all this as she stared at the solitary little text message. It said, “I know that you’re hurting, and I just wanted to remind you that God is listening.”
How did Pat know about her dad? Amy hadn’t told her. She hadn’t updated her Facebook account in three months, and no one she knew associated with Pat. Strange. “God is listening”… Amy had tried the whole talking to God bit before, but she had always felt like no one was listening, or maybe that she didn’t pray correctly. She deleted the text and went on with her day, depressed as usual.
But the text kept nagging her, repeating in her mind over and over. She was on her way to the grocery store for some pain reliever,when, almost involuntarily, she veered of the main road into an empty parking lot. She felt an urge to let everything she’d been holding onto go, all the guilt, and the pain, and the lies that she kept telling herself. It was time to heal.
She cried to the God she had always known existed. Tears flooded her car, as she screamed about all the things she’d kept bottled up inside, how she’d never felt good enough, or wanted, or loved. Suddenly, her phone lit up. Another text from Pat. This one read, “I created you, I have loved you from the start, and you know something Amy? I forgive you. -Jesus” Amy let out a deep sigh and wiped the tears from her eyes. For the first time in a long time, she felt a sense of peace, of freedom, of healing. Clutching that feeling with every fiber of her being, she started the car, and drove home, questions stacking up in her mind. She would have to call Pat; there had to be a way to feel like this all the time.