A moving & powerful piece of writing from the NCFC site.
In your message to me, you said I'm "not the DAD you used to know".
You're right, I won't deny that, the DAD you used to know is gone. That DAD was created by God, taught by his parents, recognized by his government, respected by his community. He was expected to make the right choices for you and took pride in his efforts. He used to kiss you good-bye as he left for work and you were still sleeping. That DAD could absorb a bad day at work, just from one of your hugs. That DAD gained his desire to succeed from glancing at you, as you slept. That DAD slept better after he got a kiss goodnight from you. That DAD knew the aches and pains were worth it, for he knew he was meant to be a DAD. That DAD knew what you were doing every minute of the day and was proud of everything you accomplished and was proud even when you failed. He was always there when you needed him, even when you didn't. Teachers, coaches, doctors and neighbors would seek him out to tell of your progress, setbacks, accomplishments or just to talk about parent things. That DAD was there for you, because we were together. That DAD had the freedom to pack up you and your brother and go fishing, camping, swimming, whenever we felt like it. That DAD didn't have to wonder, he knew. He could help you with your homework, any night, and it showed in your success.
That DAD is no more.
Yes, I'm still your Father, but no longer your DAD. Now I'm just a check, a visitor, a Non-Custodial dad. Created by the state law, separated by court orders, not free to make choices for your childhood. No longer contacted by those who teach you, who fix your wounds or view your accomplishments. Until you told me, I didn't even know you had surgery. This Non-Custodial dad no longer has his source of strength, no longer can comfort in your presence, for you're not here. This Non-Custodial dad cannot chose how to support you, cannot make the decisions of what you may need and cannot even make suggestions. Your goodnight kisses were worth a million dollars [and still are] and the loss of those are equally devastating. This Non-Custodial dad can't steal precious moments with you, cannot share quick insights with you and cannot give you the answers you seek every day.
Inside I'm still the same, but like a chameleon who changes his color when faced with danger, I too had to adapt. We all have to adapt to our environment. The DAD you used to know could not survive the changes forced upon him, he had to change to survive. He's gone. But, your Father still, and always, loves you, and will always take pride in your successes and try to be there for you when you stumble. I do the best I can, but even my best cannot revive the DAD you used to know, for I didn't bury him.