archives, you & me

Dad, I Don’t Think Life Turned out How You’d Planned.


I woke up thinking of you this morning.

I don’t think life turned out how you’d planned.

I wonder how you’d imagined it.

We don’t talk about things like that, so I wouldn’t know.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

You used to tell me you never had time to consider that.

I came into your life at 19.

Babies having babies, no room to think when you work three jobs.

But surely, before then you must have had a dream or two?

Or had the bitterness of life already made all your sweets sour?

Sometimes I hear stories that give me vague clues about who you were before me.

Like how you said you’d gone on a trip with your friends to California to go mountain-biking across Catalina Island.

That one caught me off guard. But why should it? You were always taking us on adventures into the outdoors.

Hiking, camping, backpacking. Coloring books and s’mores.

It’s almost painful to recall the happy memories because they stand out so sorely against the weighted sadness.

Sometimes I wonder if they were really all that happy, but other times I can feel the laughter and warmth.

I think what caught me off guard was that you went on a trip with your friends. You’ve never been one for friends, always saying you don’t trust anyone.

Except for your children. What crude irony.

It troubles me that you had have such little faith in people, not that I can’t understand why that might be.

People can be savage, in the worst of ways.

But I can’t help but think that because you expected the worst in everyone, that’s exactly what you got.

I often wish I could have come to you somehow before you were set in your ways, and shared with you all I’ve learned about life. I wish I could have given you the tools to reshape your destiny.

You had them all along, but maybe no one showed you.

But then I think, no one showed me either, you certainly didn’t. I fought to seek the truth, even when it was buried deep beneath the mud.

So then my question becomes why: why are some called to seek and are able to find the divine nature of things, and others seek and seemingly do not?

It gets really heady from there

Because then I go into this thought web of my thinking maybe I think too much of myself and what I know. Who am I to judge what others have or haven’t learned? And then I consider our souls and I wonder if maybe though I am your daughter in this realm, maybe my soul is older than yours and you’re a reincarnation making its way through the lower realms.

And then I think of karma and wonder what kind of life you led in your life before this one, or I think of soul contracts and imagine you deciding before you were born that these were the lessons you had to learn and it had to be in precisely this way. And sometimes I think you just learned from those before you, never getting that glimpse of what could be, or enough love and support where it mattered most.

I can think of a million reasons why life might have turned out this way for you, but none of them make it any easier to swallow.

I can’t explain to you how depressed I become when I think of how messed up things are, and when I think about what you must feel every single day, and how there is absolutely nothing I can do to help the situation. It is a feeling I would wish on no one.

This leads me to the thought I had this morning, about what you’d wanted out of life back before you’d given up on wanting.

I can’t imagine you wanting to be a firefighter, a doctor, or a writer.

Maybe a lawyer, you do love to argue and be right.

Grandma sometimes tells stories of you and your siblings all getting together and creating a rock band and putting on shows in the living room. She says you guys did plays too, you just loved to have an audience.

When did that part of you die? And who destroyed it?

For knowing you my whole life, I feel I know so little.

A long time ago I came across love letters you wrote to my former stepmother. They were tender and sweet, and sometimes I see old photos of you that reflect the same sentiment.

I remember thinking how strange it was to see such sensitive expression in your handwriting.

I know you love to have a good time, you love laughing and making others laugh… well, you used to. I don’t think you can relax enough anymore to get lost in that kind of connection.

I know you self-medicated for a very long time, and maybe you still would be if it were up to you, but I don’t know what wounds you were always trying to cover up or drown out.

I have so many questions I don’t know I’ll ever get the answers to.

What life did you imagine for yourself before me?

What would you do differently if given the chance?


Jessica Stewart is a human whose deepest joys include conversation, exploration, and sharing meals with others. She lives in Santa Cruz California with her wonderful boyfriend Ojan and two sweet cats, Cleo and Ghost. As an avid student of life, she is committed to seeking love and truth in all things, and hopes to inspire others to live their most raw and authentic life in spite of inevitable times of darkness that pervade our existence. She believes that self-love and human connection are two of the most undervalued qualities in our society, and wants to create a community deeply rooted in these principles. She would love to collaborate with anyone interested in creating. More of her writing can be found at Elusive Zen.


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