Today I’m welcoming my friend Katelyn to The Garcia Diaries. I have done my best to be honest and open about the struggles I’ve faced with my own father. A few weeks ago, Katelyn shared a status update on Facebook that I’m sure was very hard to write. Though we have very different situations, I related to her post on such a personal level. I read her post with tears falling down my face. It takes intense bravery to be so honest about these kinds of trials. I asked Katelyn if she would be open to sharing her words on The Garcia Diaries, because I know that there are sons and daughters and friends out there struggling with this same thing. I always say that if I can help just ONE person through my writing, it will all be worth it. I know Katelyn’s writing has already helped so many people, and I am honored to share my platform with her to reach even more people.
Or at least that’s what I used to call you.
I’m not sure how to refer to you now. I can’t call you dad, considering that the title ‘dad’ is typically reserved for men who attend their children’s sporting events and ask them grotesque details about their lives and…well, you don’t do those things. At least not anymore. But yet, I can’t call you by your name, because that seems too informal, too distant, to refer to someone who floods my every day memories, who helped shape me into the woman I am today.
And that’s the confusing part. If you had just been a dead-beat dad, and had never been apart of my life, maybe you’d have always just been ‘Matthew’. But you weren’t. You were strong, brave, hilarious, compassionate. You were my superhero. You were my best friend. You gave me courage. You taught me how to play guitar, how to run, how to workout. You showed me how to be kind, how to feed the homeless people, how to make it through anything, because I am a Starcher.
And then one day, one day recent, I woke up in my college dorm, and you were nothing. You were a coward, a monster, something that I learned and grew to despise and hate, who cared more about finding your latest hit of drugs than your daughter, your sons, your wife, the people who sacrificed everything for you. I have been grieving the death of a dad who is still roaming around homeless on the streets somewhere on Earth, who no longer cares about my school performances or the grotesque details of my life. And I could leave the memory of you in my life exactly the way it lay: dead to me. But the thing is, one of the things you taught me how to be was forgiving. And so instead I choose from this day forward to remember you for how you were, for what you brought into my life.
Because dad, without you, I wouldn’t be where I am right now. When I got a 1.4 GPA my first semester of college and wanted to quit, you reminded me of my worth. Without you, I wouldn’t have a job, being able to perform and play music for people, because you sat with me for hours and reminded me that patience was key to learning music. Dad. I’m an EMT now, because you taught me that people’s lives are what is most important in life. Dad, I’ve saved lives and I always dream that one day when I am an EMT or PA in Phoenix, that you’ll come into my ER and that you’ll be the next life that I save. But I know that’s a long shot, because there are a lot of people that need saving, and only one you, and only one me.
And that’s why I write you today, for everyone to read. Because I spend so much time trying to cover you up, to pretend you don’t exist, to tell people that I just ‘don’t have a dad’. But the only way the beauty within you that drugs have hidden will show, will live on, is if I remember it. If I shout it from the rooftops. If I tell everyone I know that you are so much more than a drug addict. That’s how you’ll live. Because one day, your lifestyle will catch up with you, probably some day soon. Because one day, your life will need saving, after overdosing in an alley way or driving drunk behind the wheel. And the woman you helped raise into someone forgiving, strong, and brave, won’t be there to save you. But another EMT will. And I hope they look at you, and instead of seeing a meth addict, I hope they find the compassion within themselves to see a father. I hope they have the audacity to remember that once upon a time, you were my superhero. And even Spiderman and Batman and Superman needed saving sometimes.
Dad, you’ve taught me so many things. I see drug addicts as patients all the time, and I try to give them love and patience as if they were you. As if I had a second chance to have you in my life. As if I had the chance to save you. And I hope any EMS personnel that reads this, and the ones that don’t, and anyone who has ever spat or cursed in the direction of just another ‘drug addicted homeless man on the street’, I hope they remember that every patient they have, every person they encounter, is someone’s family, someone’s father, someone’s long lost superhero. And I hope you find your Guardian Angel soon, because I miss being able to fight crime with you.
Love, Your Daughter, always.
You can like Katelyn’s Facebook page to keep up with her music career, watch her incredible videos, and find out her show dates!