I think it was Christmas Eve. The fact that I can’t be sure terrifies me because I have always convinced myself that I never got so sick that my brain wasn’t fully functioning. I had only been in recovery for a few months and it had gotten worse before it got any better. Because of our similarities beyond long legs (thanks!) and because it is my favourite day of the entire year, we were both up at the crack of dawn. The difference, unfortunately, was that I needed to get up and exercise if there was any shot of me eating what I was supposed to that day. I needed the treadmill, which you promised if I came home for Christmas you’d have set up to make me feel “safe”. Safe like vegetables and berries and unsweetened almond milk* and pretty much nothing else. So you had. But the treadmill wasn’t working that morning. Christmas Eve. And I was too sick to understand. It probably wasn’t even 7am but I wasn’t relaxing into the holiday. I was stricken with panic and I was demanding we figure out how to fix it because how can someone live without cardio and how can you expect me to get through the day if I haven’t earned my place in the world by continuing to shrink further away from it.
*actually, unsweetened cashew milk because it has 25 calories per cup; almond has 30.
At some point you were frustrated, patience worn thinner than me or the last threads of your sanity watching your little Boo slowly kill herself. And you asked me why I couldn’t just ease up a little bit for gods sake. In that moment I broke, as fragile in my emotions as I was in my body, sobbing uncontrollably because Christmas was my favourite and now it was all ruined because if the day didn’t start right I could never really recover from it. Only months later would I begin to understand how confusing it must be to love someone with a BMI bordering on hospitalization who could so relentlessly demand the use of a treadmill if she was to spend Christmas with you.
I remember when we bought it. We trekked to God-knows-where in the Northeast of Calgary to a strangers house we found on kijiji and paid a couple of hundred dollars and hauled the ridiculous thing into the back of the MDX and hauled the ridiculous thing into the house and hauled the ridiculous thing down the stairs into the basement and we laughed the entire time. It was in mint condition and
I anorexia was thrilled because I could exercise whenever I wanted, no matter what. I’m sorry I made you buy that treadmill. I’m sorry for how much of my sparkle and potential – the potential that you have never failed to see – was funnelled and siphoned into a misguided obsession with distorted perfection that doesn’t exist.
You apologized first, you told me you loved me, told me we were going to have a great Christmas and you were so sorry and that you knew how hard I was working on recovery and that it must be so overwhelming. The next morning was the first Christmas breakfast we had as a family in 6 years.
I don’t know why this memory came up for me today, when I thought of Father’s Day. Maybe because it embodies so much of what it must be to be a parent. To be a father. To be my daddy who has never once faltered in loving me more than anyone ever has or ever will. Every day after this memory and every day before it you did everything I needed and more. You cheer me on; always first, always loudest. You’re the reason “I’m so proud of you” lights me up more than any other words in the english language. To me, this memory seems terribly tragic for a Father’s Day letter but it’s a complete embodiment of the love I have for you because at my absolute worst you were unrelenting in your love and support, you show the same love at my very best me and everywhere in between.
Thank you for being a secretly raging badass who threatens to rip the lips off of any guy who hurts me, for being the first one who showed me how big the world is, and how big mine can be. For always being the first to apologize and the last one to leave my side. For being the King Tritan to my Ariel. For dancing with me to Beauty and the Beast every. single. time. And for
crying “getting a little misty” every year at the exact same part of It’s A Wonderful Life, whether I’ve fallen asleep (always) or not.
I love you so much I could explode my head. Happy Father’s Day.