But I always knew that he loved me more than anything else in the world; when he was home, he took the time to show my brother and I how wonderful he thought we were and how much we meant to him.
For example, as a little girl, if I ever came to my dad in tears--from scraping my knee or getting bullied at school--my dad would always say, "Don't cry because it's breaking my heart."
& while it's entirely possible and maybe even likely that this was just a clever man's way of avoiding his daughter's tantrums, I never doubted for a minute that he meant it.
not when I was four and distraught that my big brother ripped my Barbie's head off;
not when I was eight and fell down a long flight of stone stairs while sight-seeing in Puerto Rico;
not when I was twelve and the first boy I liked rejected me because of my messy, curly hair;
and not when I was twenty one & called my dad--afraid of disappointing him and scared in general--to tell him that I was being arrested.
I always felt that somewhere deep down, seeing me sad really did tear my dad up inside.
& every time he'd say that phrase, "Don't cry because it's breaking my heart," I would let out one more huff, gasp big breaths of air, choke back the tears, and wipe my face.
& that was that.
Even as a little girl I could not stand the idea of making my dad sad, ever, let alone in situations where I could easily just stop crying and fix the problem.
For the last year, my dad & I have lived in the same city--in apartments just down the block from each other.
I think the opportunity to see my dad every week or every day if I felt like it (really the first time in my life that this opportunity has presented itself) has been a big part of my happiness in the last year. I can honestly say that my time in San Antonio has been the happiest time of my life, for so many reasons. Not only because of my dad, but because of the friends I've made in law school, the opportunity to get to know my brother better & all the people he's introduced me to, and maybe just because coming out here was like starting over.
But I'm getting off topic.
What I'm trying to work up to is that this morning my dad moved.
Out of the city.
Out of the state.
Out of the south.
& I know it's not like I'll never see him again but I still can't help but be sad that he's leaving and even sadder when I anticipate how much I'm going to miss him.
This morning, we loaded the last of his bags into his U-Haul.
Before he climbed into the driver's seat, we both tried our best to be completely calm and casual about it all.
We kicked pebbles by our feet, we scratched our heads, we avoided eye contact. We even collectively uttered the same awkward, "so..."
& this fake display of indifference was all going along so well
until we hugged good bye.
With one arm wrapped around my shoulders, I felt my dad's other arm reach up to wipe his face. I looked up into his face to see him crying.
I quickly looked away, feeling betrayed by this display of emotions--we had silently agreed to play it cool!
But I couldn't help it; those tears were eating me away on the inside & I cried, too.
Still hugging, I told him, "Don't cry, dad. It's breaking my heart."
& we laughed a little before he kissed my forehead and got into his truck.