“I’m leaving”. These were the two words that tore my whole world apart. My name is Michelle Long and that was the day my father divorced me. Well technically it was my mum he divorced, but the way I saw it, it may as well have been me. I remember sitting on the steps outside our house, watching him move box after box, memory after memory, out of what had once been our family home.
Just as he got in his car, preparing to drive away from those he loved, he stopped and called out to me.”Michelle, I know you might be angry at me,” he began. “Really?” I scoffed, my voice dripping with sarcasm, I was angry and I wanted the whole world to know. “Please try to remember that I love you, and this is for you.” He walked over to me, dropped a roughly wrapped present on my lap, then got back in the car and drove away. I looked at the package in my hands, before tearing it open, impatient to see what was inside. To my great disappoint it was a book, big and mysterious in appearance. I opened it and began to read the inscription inside.
‘Michelle, I am leaving you this diary, so when I next see you again whenever that shall be, you will hopefully allow me to read it, so I will not have missed out on all the important things in your life. I will always love you. Dad’
That was five long years ago. I will always remember that day because as my dad was driving away a truck ran through a red light, hit his car and killed him upon impact. I was distraught and hid this diary in the attic, hoping to never see it again. I guess that somewhere in my thirteen year old mind, I blamed him, for dying, for not fighting hard enough, for leaving me. And things only went downhill from there.
Without dad there, we had no source of income. My mum had never needed to work; she was a typical trophy wife. Petit and delicate in appearance, my mum was nowhere near cut out for the struggle we both faced that following year. We were never what many would call rich, but we never struggled. Though the year after my father’s death, boy, that was a totally different story. Debt overwhelmed us, consumed whatever we owned. I was only fifteen when the bank took our house. My only belongings that remained were the clothes on my back, and this diary. We were homeless, and for once in my life I was the one receiving spare change instead of giving it. But finally when I began to believe things couldn’t get any worse, mum met Brett.
The first thing that popped into my mind when I lay eyes on Brett was ‘big’. He was a tall, dark, hairy man, the complete opposite of my dad. It was a cold Saturday evening in August and we had just found a caravan park to stay in for a few weeks. He came and picked up my mum in his ute, a big ugly thing, much like himself. As they left my mum turned around and waved, a look of pure joy plastered on her face. Just as I smiled back at her I happened to glimpse Brett’s face. It was contorted into a look of absolute disgust, as he looked me up and down. That was the last time I ever saw my mother. I hope she was better off than I for those years. I still have hope that one day I’ll track her down, and we will meet, rush into each other’s arms, saying sorry, sobbing, and forgiving. But whenever that does happen it’s not now.
It was a few months after this that I finally decided to get my act together. For the next year I forgot the meaning of the word, rest. I went from job to job and then got into tafe, having dropped out of school when we got evicted from our house. After graduating and getting my degree in finance, I met David. And that’s where I am now, not just living life but loving life.
So dad, as I stand here at your grave I just want to say thank you for being there for me, even if it was just through this diary. It is the only thing that was there with me at my worst hour and my best just like you should have, would have been and I know that you are always looking over me. I wish you were here so I could tell you that you are the reason that I kept on going, that I didn’t give up, and I never will. And it is all thanks to you.