I hated him for what he did to me.
To my mother.
I remember nights as a small girl,
gazing at his kind, black eyes with my bed's sheer pink canopy
outlining the safety in his expression. "Good night, my baby", he would say.
And I believed him...
...after all, he was the only father I'd ever known as a girl.
He let me prop my tiny feet on his and dance across the living room to the Temptations.
He bought me beautiful, Black barbie dolls for Christmas
made heartfelt, awful attempts at braiding my hair while my mom worked double shifts.
But soon after I had to learn how to master the side ponytail on my own.
And my mother's role became unisex.
And I'd never known hatred until that afternoon
when I saw him raise that strong hand above my brother's head.
That same hand that I usually felt open-palmed to swat my behind after misbehaving...
...now clenched to form a fist.
My mother's shrill cry preceded
I sat at the end of the hallway feeling a lump form in my chest.
I hated him.
My world started to speed up; progressing in a spinning motion.
Circling past moments where I was content and safe...
...ending up right back where I sat at the end of my hallway.
I danced with anger.
A slow, simple grind
Switching back and forth from waltz to tango.
...and my world moved with us.
It wasn't until I saw him 13 years later that
my world stopped spinning.
His father had died and my mother wanted to pay respects to his family.
I wasn't expecting to see him that day, but the moment I looked up
and saw him: older, shorter, and more docile...
I froze. Swallowed. and felt no lump there.
Stillness taught me another lesson:
Forgiveness is the gate that leads to the path of Freedom.