An Open Letter to the Parents I Never Had

I’ve tried so hard to make you proud.

When I was little, whenever I was working on some project, some coloring page or poem I was crafting, I felt you out there. I used to hope you would appear and wrap your arms around me. I hoped you would tell me I was good enough, that you loved me no matter what, that there was a place for me on earth. I imagined how it would feel in your arms: safe and secure, a place I belonged. I felt like, if I could become a person you could be proud of, you would appear.

All these years I tried to stay a good kid for you. I’ve tried to live a life that would make you smile. I’ve tried to be the parent I imagined you would have been. In my adult years, I wished you would show up and give me advice, leading me through all these difficult choices. I tried to imagine what you would say. I’ve tried to honor and obey your wisdom. I’ve walked with the idea of you behind me, but I’ve learned to stop looking over my shoulder for you. 

You’ve never been there, because you were never real. All the things are broken. I’ve  been alone all along. I don’t know why you couldn’t love me. I tried so hard to be lovable. It’s been hard on me lately. I’ve been smoking. Somewhere I thought you might show up and show me how to put them down. You didn’t; you won’t. Like everything else before, I have to do it alone. This time, I have to do it without any dream of you. The dream is gone, or going. You aren’t kind to me anymore.

I want  to be mad at you, but that’s just being mad at myself for allowing the hope. I will just be mad at me for making you up, though maybe I was better for it. Maybe hoping to believe in something good is better than accepting all the things are broken. We’ll see. 

I cannot explain to anyone the grief I feel over losing something I never had. I hoped for you, and that was foolish. I wanted it to be noble, to be stalwart, to incite your allegiance, but I suppose it was all foolishness. 

I wish you could have wrapped your arms around me and made it all okay. I wish, for one day, you could have been real. I’m removing you as a tourniquet. I’m ebbing out a lifetime of grief. I’m saying goodbye. I’m moving out. I’m breaking it off. 

And I can’t apologize, because there’s no one there. And you can’t change it, because I can’t change it. 

I don’t want to try anymore. 



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