Tuesday 24 March 2015
I’m writing this letter with no expectation of a reply. I just want to send my best wishes for a happy and joyful birthday.
On the day of your birth I was at Danang air base in Vietnam, just returned from flying a double cycle, tired, almost brain dead from the tension of the flight. ASDO stepped out of the duty shack, and called to me. Said I was needed—the OinC had something for me. OinC told me he received a message announcing your birth. That we had a plane going back to Atsugi in the afternoon for check, and one of the crewmen volunteered to stay in my place and take my flights so I could be with you and your mother. I should go to the barracks, clean up, pack my trash, and be ready at 1800. I asked if you were a girl or boy. He handed me the message to read. It did not say.
I arrived in Japan sometime after midnight. Early next morning, I saw you for the first time at the hospital in Yokosuka. You were behind a glass wall, wrapped in a pink blanket, asleep in a crib. I wanted to hold you, but that was not permitted. I went to your mother’s room. She was also asleep. I sat and waited till she woke. We talked a while. She told me the name she had decided on. I was awed by the experience. The thought that I now had a daughter to care for was overwhelming. On your fifth day I drove you and your mother home, and we spent a few days together as a family before I returned to duty.
It saddens me to look back at my failures as a husband and as a father. Memories of my arrogance and selfish behavior lie at the very front of my mind. If it were possible to relive my time with you, and live it better, I would do so without hesitation, but the clock only winds in one direction. The best and only thing I can do is acknowledge the harm I have done, and say I am truly sorry. I say that, too, with no expectation of a reply.
My best wishes to you, now and in the future.
This is the letter I would write to my daughter on her birthday. But to do so would be intrusive, so I will not. Instead, I will write it here and no harm will be done.
Sweet Grecy and I talk about her sometimes. Grecy is the one who most understands me—and my failings. She is at our home in the Philippines right now, so I am alone with my thoughts. I dig into them. Dig to the deepest part I can find. To the point where I am absolutely and utterly alone, in trying to understand. But there, everything darkens to a singularity, and I am held at bay—held in orbit, circling, circling, but never getting closer. Why? Why can I not solve the mystery that is me? Sometimes I think, if I could just dig deep enough, parse my soul, find the answers, maybe I would also find redemption. Truth is, she is gone from me, and I will never know her for the fine woman I imagine she has become. I have to live with the fairness of that, the absolute, rational fairness of that. Plain and simple, I have the life I have earned. Nothing more. Nothing less.
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