Randall, from NBC’s “This Is Us”, and I have a few similar experiences. This fictional character has helped me reconcile with a few things in my own life.
In my mind, I stood at Michael’s front door and made this grand speech about his being absent.
I was the recipient of letters that were never sent, calls that were never made, and memories that reside in his dreams.
I struggle with anxiety and put a tremendous amount of pressure on myself. Like Randall, I left a career that met all the measures of “success” and chose a different path.
Earlier last year I was at a retreat, during the retreat each member was asked to share something they feared. Through tears, I shared that my fear was my mother would be the first die and leave me to take care of Michael by myself. Then I watched William and Randall’s story from “This Is Us” and began sobbing.
This shame from feeling that I could even have that thought hung in the air as I watched their final moments in William’s hospital room. A father and a son. A former drug addict and his son. The love of his child did not diminish despite his drug addiction. His love for his child stayed with him through the years as he wrote poems to his son. Poems that through mercy he was able to share with him. I sobbed harder.
In that moment, I felt immediate compassion for Michael’s struggles.
Like William, Michael wants to have a relationship with his 37 year old daughter. The desire to have a relationship is not from guilt, because feeling guilty is not necessary and unproductive for us both. Michael wants to engage knowing that he needs to be present for the next chapter in my journey of life. He can enter into the new chapter knowing that I have the best stepfather and mentored by one of the wisest, most compassionate man I know.
I am grateful for the course of events in a nontraditional Father-Daughter relationship because if it had been different, I would not have had the great honor of loving these men. My life would be different. After all, life is about the small decision points that change the path of life to shape you.
There are many times that it will be far from perfect, but similar to Randall, I can roll down the windows and turn up the music. The road trip of a paused relationship begins now.