My daughter has her father’s eyes. Every once in a while, an expression will cross her face that carries such a strong echo of his that it takes me by surprise. It’s most striking when she is making a face like “oh, really?” One of her eyebrows bends upwards and it’s almost like he is looking out at me.
She hasn’t seen her dad since she was in grade school. She is now half-way through college and will soon be heading to Germany (as I write this) for this coming fall semester. She carries the best of him in her — a curiousity, a sharp mind and an easy way with people. And she also carries the wound of his abandonment. There was a time that she feared he was dead. I didn’t know which would be more painful for my sweetpea child — to live with that fear or to know that he lived down the block (which he did at the time as far as I could tell) but wasn’t able to choose being in her life over drinking. And so I just reassured her as best I could that they would find us and tell us if something ever happened to him, and that he loved her but wasn’t well and wasn’t able to be with her.
There may come a day that she chooses to seek him out. We are in another state now, so it may not be easy. (Although odds are good that he is still in that same bar…) If that ever does happen, I wonder what her eyes will see and what his will see back. Will they each see a glimpse of themselves, painfully, in each other? Will he have the courage to look square at her, and own up to his failure? Will she be freed from the burden of not being good enough to save him?