I found my dad in the dark. He sat in his wheelchair, facing the window. The shade was pulled. When I opened the door, the light from the hallway illuminated his profile. Beads of sweat multiplied on his forehead, running down the side of his face. He was in so much pain that even the light was too much to bear. This is the space he has been in for the last few months. The accident of a teenage girl texting and driving, not seeing my dad standing and crushing his body, taking his left leg–the accident that happened almost eighteen months ago now haunts him with more pain than ever. And we all feel helpless to this giant of pain that never lets go of him.
This morning the air is cold and damp, a pure Northwest morning.
I walk forward with the dog, and when we turn the bend that tucks us into evergreens and moss covered paths, I cry. I am my father’s daughter, and in the mysterious bound we share, I come to the morning air to cry and let go of the helplessness I can’t change. Tears come for his pain–his loneliness. I cry for the unwanted change that he cannot rewind. Tears fall for the giant he has always been, and the toll I see the pain taking. And when the moss starts to disappear and the road opens up to a view of the Puget Sound I say a prayer. “I pray that I would be like a body of water, free to ebb and flow, deep with passion, emotion, water that is never standing still but always alive, able to pour out whether through tears or laughter.”
I know that my morning walks will not always be this way. For the first few weeks, I fought the tears feeling confused–even ashamed. But one day I was singing, and I heard an unexpected whisper in my heart. A whisper that said “I am my father’s daughter”. And in the intensity of my bond to my father, the most powerful testimony of forgiveness that I have ever lived…if this is a way to love him, pray for him, intercede for the heavy burden he now carries, I would walk my morning walks without question when the tears came. This alone is our story of redemption.
There was a time when my father’s heart was cold toward me, and I struggled to face him as a stone.
But those days are long ago, and forgiveness has gone deep. An Asian father who know longer carries shame for his daughter’s rape. A first generation, Asian father who asks his daughter to forgive him for not filling her with love and worthiness, shelters to protect her from such pain. An Asian father who let goes of his culture to gain his daughter. An Asian father who redeems all the years lost with his daughter by how he pours passionately into his granddaughter. I am my father’s daughter, and we no longer face each other like walls of stone.
Forgiveness has broke down every wall that when I see him get out of the car, working so hard to visit the kids’ Tae Kwon Do class, with sweat already coming down his face, I have no wall to shield me from how much it hurts to see him hurt.
A teenage girl texting and driving changed his life in seconds.
The kids eyes light up because Papa, the sixth degree black belt, has come to watch them. He puts his prosthetic leg on and wobbles toward them with arms open wide to hug them. I can see the weariness on his face, he has been fighting the giant all day. But he smiles past the pain, and I am in awe. At the end of the kids’ class, Master Pae, the instructor, tells all the children that they are honored to have a special guest tonight. “We have a great Master in our midst who honors us with his presence. He is a Tae Kwon Do master for many years now. Everyone, bow to Pascaline and Blaze’s grandfather, for honoring us with his coming today.” All the children turn, face my dad, and bow together. My dad smiles softly and nods in response. I can see how much this gesture gives to him. Yes, he is a great Master, and we are all honored to have him still with us, and I am proud to be my father’s daughter.
I asked for prayer yesterday on Facebook.
And I want to thank you for all your prayers. He rolled into another surgery yesterday. My father flew from Seattle to LA for the surgery; he found a specialist who believes he can help the pain. When I talked to him the night before, I could tell his pain was high by his interrupted breathing pattern. I asked him if he was nervous about the next day, his laughter broke past the pain and he said “I’m so excited to sleep during the surgery Mee-da! I will have a break from the pain!” Last night, the surgeon said he is very hopeful for the outcome of the surgery.
Thank you for carrying us with your prayers, as we continue to walk into my father’s new reality–thankful he is still here. And thank you for praying for the teenage girl texting and driving. I’m sure she needs them too.