In honor of my dad’s 50th birthday…
The day I found out I was pregnant, I was so scared to tell my parents. They had such great expectations for me and I did not want to let them down. My parents had just divorced a couple of years prior to me getting pregnant and I did not want them to blame themselves for my pregnancy. I called my aunt and she was able to break the news to my mom. My mom was so hurt that she gave me an ultimatum. She said because I lived in her household, I had to get an abortion.
My mom then forced me to call my dad and tell him the bad news, or so I thought was bad news. He yelled at me, I could barely remember what was said because I was balling on the phone. However, I do remember him telling me that I am going to face the consequences and give birth to this baby that was in my stomach. He said we do not believe in abortions and if my mom does not want me in her house then I will move in with him.
A few days passed and my mom said we needed to go to church so I could talk to someone. That Sunday, I cried just walking into church. I was so lost. I did not know what to do. Here I was 16 years old and pregnant by a guy that I didn’t even want to be with anymore. (I’ll explain that situation in another blog.) After church, my mom spoke to me and said I could stay in her house and I did not have to get an abortion.
Fast forward to nine months later and my baby girl is ready for delivery. My mom cried tears of joy in the delivery room as if it was her child. She also took two weeks off of work just to help me take care of Aniyah. My dad was in the delivery room screaming “push” with a huge smile on his face. He wasn’t even supposed to be in the room while I was giving birth but he somehow made his way. He was yelling so hard that he was spitting on me. At this point, I was so annoyed that I yelled I back and told him to be quiet. It was that day that my family and I realized that Aniyah was truly a blessing in all of our lives.
My dad pushed me to apply to all the universities I’ve always wanted to attend despite being a mother. It was my dream of going to the University of Florida, so I applied. I also got accepted! My dad was so excited; he was going to be a Gator Dad! My dad informed me that if I decided to go, he will take care of Aniyah while I pursue my undergraduate degree.
I also got accepted into the University of Miami, University of Central Florida, Florida A&M University, and University of South Florida. The deadline to make a decision for UF was quickly approaching so my Dad and I decided to go on college tours. I got to UF and was not thrilled at all about the campus. I did not feel like it was home for me. We then went on to tour UCF. I fell in love! I knew this was my school and so I made the decision to attend.
My parents worked together to take care of Aniyah so I could live on campus even though it was only a 30-45-minute commute from home. For the first few months, I would call my dad for EVERYTHING! I would call him when I wake up, go to class, leave class, eat lunch, before I sleep, and everything else in between. Some days he would answer the phone and say “What do you want? I am at work!” I could only laugh and say “Ok Dad, bye.”
My first year of college was almost complete. It was finals week during my spring semester and like always, I had to call my dad that day. I called when I woke up and got no answer. It was almost time for my final and once again he did not answer the phone. Normally, I would call him before an exam and he’d give me words of encouragement. I am freaking out because I needed to hear my dad’s voice before I took his exam. I then received a phone call from my mom asking if I was done with my finals. I asked if she had heard from my Dad and she said she’ll talk to me when I’m done with my finals.
After my last exam, I called my mom and found out where my dad was. He was being held by the U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Miami. My dad came to this country from Jamaica when he was in high school. He married my mom, had four beautiful children, grandchildren, a great job, and was paying taxes. Over twenty years of being in this country, someone that was close to our family reported him to immigration. I was a wreck! I needed my dad. He was my protector, provider, comforter, and more. Almost a year of going through court hearings and being detained, he agreed to voluntary deportation. My dad was never able to go back to Jamaica when he left as a child. He was now about to embark on a journey to a country that was foreign to him. I had to look past my selfishness and support my Dad’s decision. He was detained as if he was a murderer just for coming to America with his parents to make a better living for himself. He wore the jumpsuits, handcuffs, ate the bad food, just like criminals do. He was limited to the amount of phone calls and visits so he barely got to speak to my siblings and I.
My dad was a father figure to Aniyah. Her dad has always been absent in her life and my father filled that void. Now, I had to figure out how to be a mother and father to Aniyah. It was rough. My dad was the one that brought the family together. During holidays, he could cook and invite everyone over. When he left the country, holidays weren’t the same anymore. They were quite depressing actually. During the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday of 2011, I broke. I tried so hard to be strong for my family that I covered up my emotions and feelings for so long. I could not eat or sleep. I had lost 10 pounds in seven days. I would go to work and have anxiety attacks. Nobody realized what was going on except for two close friends. I knew it would only get worse and I had to be on this earth for Aniyah so I decided to get help. I was prescribed Zoloft for depression and had to seek counseling. I didn’t like the feeling I had when I took the medication. It made me not care about anything. I would just go throughout the day absolutely careless. I took myself off of the medication without medical consent and decided to seek the Lord. I would always pray and go to church but I never really had a relationship with Christ. As I got closer to him, I realized that I put my earthly father above my spiritual father. My dad filled all my voids and now that he was gone, I had nobody to fill them. Thus, I went through depression and had anxiety attacks. However, with God I was healed and covered. God became my number one and my Dad was below Him.
Sometimes in life, we tend to depend on people or things to fill voids in our life. God is a jealous God and He wants it ALL. He will strip you from your possessions or people that deter you away from Him. I thank God for allowing my family to go through this. I was able to just let go of my Dad and cling to Christ. My relationship with God is amazing. He is my protector, provider, peace, healer, motivator, and decision maker.
My dad and I are still super close. I tell people all the time that he is my best friend. I can pick up the phone and talk to him about almost anything. However, I go to God before I go to him. I once was lost, searching for others to fill voids that only God can fill, but now I am found.
If you are struggling with the feeling of loneliness, give it to God. He already knows what your feeling he just wants you to acknowledge it and give it to Him. He will fill EVERY void in your life.
To my dad,
I love you and I thank you for being a great example to my siblings, Aniyah, and I. You are an amazing father and we do not give you enough credit for what you do. Although you are not physically in this country with us, your emotional support is outstanding. I wish we were able to throw a big party for you in Jamaica, but we’ll have to party it up when we see you this summer. Happy 50th birthday!