The biggest surprise of my life came on November 18th 2011 -- the day I found out that I was pregnant. The second biggest surprise came a year ago yesterday, February 1st 2012 -- the day that Michelle's father abandoned us. If you haven't read my post "Feb-RUE-ary" (the second post I wrote here, back in March of 2012) check it out for the full story. The Coles notes is that Mike up and left, without warning, without a word or note of apology. In December he told me that he loved me and the baby and was excited to have a family for the first time in his life. Then inexplicably on February 1st he snuck out in the middle of the night while I was at work. I can't imagine a more callous or cowardly act. To this day I have not heard a word from him. I still can't begin to understand how he could do it. Even if he hated me (and he claimed to love me) how could he leave his own child, especially after his own experience of never knowing his father and never really feeling like he had a family (since he was bounced from foster home to foster home and never even bonded with his eventual adoptive family)? I know that at least part of his motivation had to be money. It couldn't have been a coincidence that he owed me money and was supposed to be giving me the cheque on Feb 1st. He likely didn't have the money. We'd argued about money before and it wasn't pretty. Maybe he thought it was better to just disappear. In 31 years, Mike had lived in 31 different places. He was a drifter and nowhere ever really felt like home. I'm sure it wasn't the first time he'd taken off without a word. But this was more than just skipping out on rent. It was skipping out on his girlfriend, his child, a family, a home and a life we were building together. I will never understand how he could do that. I don't know how he lives with himself. I kept thinking maybe he'd have a pang of conscience and pen an apology or at least an explanation at some point or perhaps even mail a cheque (we could really use it right now! Finances are tighter than ever on maternity leave!) to assuage his guilt. But it's been a year now and nothing. Nada. Maybe he's forgotten us. Or maybe he's worse off than we are. He had money issues, emotional issues, issues up the yin yang. So maybe he figured it was just better this way. He couldn't have helped us. He couldn't even take care of himself.
Ironically I had taken pictures of Mike and his dog the day before he left, January 31st. I didn't realize at the time that they were the last pictures I'd have of them, that they'd be gone the next day. It was a nice sunny day so we went for a long walk. It was pleasant except that I had overdone it and was exhausted. Being pregnant and hormonal, I admit I wasn't always a picnic. I was feeling pretty fragile. Sometimes it felt like our relationship was all give and take -- with me giving and him taking. I wanted to feel loved and cherished and special. He wrote me a beautiful letter at Christmastime about how much he loved me and how excited he was about us becoming a family but since then it seemed he was taking me for granted. Instead of taking care of me it seemed I was always taking care of him and our pets and the house and paying the bills and doing everything. I was running on empty and wondering how I would care for a baby on top of it all. We had many arguments. I could understand if he stormed out during one of our fights and said "That's it! I've had it!" But he didn't. We always made up. On January 31st when I voiced my concerns, he reassured me that he cared. He said he actually had something special planned for Valentine's Day. He gave no indication that he was planning an exit.
When I got up the next day he was sweeter than ever. Joking around, hugging and kissing me. I had to go to work on nightshift. He didn't seem to want me to go to work. He always sulked when I had to go to work. He was extremely dependent and never wanted me out of his sight which makes his leaving all the more baffling. If he couldn't live without me for five minutes how could he go forever? Maybe he resented being so dependent on me. Who knows? Only one person and he's not talking. I said I'd see him on my lunch break. He hugged and kissed me goodbye. There didn't appear to be anything wrong. If he was planning to leave he certainly hid it well. He would have had to scramble to pack everything up and go because he couldn't be sure when I'd get my lunch break. It could have been as early as 11:30 p.m. or as late as 2:30 a.m. When I went home at 2:30 a.m. the lights were on but no one was home. Mike, his pets and all his things were gone. I was in shock. I went back to work like a zombie. I didn't say a word about it to anyone. What could I say? I didn't even know what was going on. I felt like I was in the Twilight Zone. It made no sense. They didn't even know at work that I was pregnant. I'd been hiding it with oversized sweaters. Now I would have to tell them I was pregnant and abandoned. I couldn't believe it was happening.
When I think back to that night I realize that whoever came to pick him up must have showed up sooner than he expected because he had a fresh cigarette sitting on the ashtray (and he NEVER wasted a smoke. When he was desperate enough he even re-used old butts to make a new one) and coffee brewing. The lights and TV were on. Maybe he was going to write some kind of a note but didn't have time? I don't know. It still makes no sense to me. I don't know whether his leaving was premeditated (which is creepy considering how he acted like nothing was wrong and said he'd see me on my lunch break) or whether it was a spur of the moment thing if something happened while I was at work. He had a habit of snooping through my things. He'd already complained about my past boyfriends. He was insanely jealous. He didn't like that I had photos of old boyfriends. He was worried since I'd had so many boyfriends that he was just a "bump in the road" and that I wouldn't stay with him. After finding out I was pregnant I was certainly committed. He was the father of my child. I had to make it work. Even if he had found something that he didn't like (I can't imagine what but he had an overly suspicious, possessive and vindictive nature) I would think he'd want to confront me with it, not just disappear. He was the king of confrontation. He'd never let you off the hook for anything. He always wanted to know what I was thinking. We had to talk everything out all the time. Silence was so out of character for him that it makes his exit all the more ridiculous. Unless there was something so terrible he couldn't even bear to say it. Unless he was in some kind of trouble. Or he was just so terrified of the idea of being a father he couldn't face it? The frustrating thing is not knowing. I can only guess. He could have at least left a note to give me closure. My sister thought he didn't want closure, that maybe he wanted to leave the door open. Maybe he just needed time and would return. I said no way could he ever return. The door was closed to him forever and I changed the locks the next day.
Somehow I got through that February. I didn't think that I would. Being pregnant makes you emotional enough. I cried at the drop of a hat. Now I had a lot to cry about. Not only was I having a child unexpectedly, I was apparently going to be doing it on my own. Mike left me with bigger bills than ever to pay and no way to pay them because he didn't even leave the money he owed me. My washer died and had to be replaced. My cat passed away. It felt like my life was crumbling at my feet. I managed to find the strength to pick myself up and carry on. Problem. Solution. I did what I could. I sold stuff on Kijiji. Miracles started to happen. I even made enough money to buy a new washing machine (certainly a necessity with a baby on the way!) I had faith that everything would be OK and God was taking care of us.
Of course when all is said and done, Michelle and I are better off without her deadbeat dad in the picture. He was a liability more than a help. He produced rather than reduced stress. He created more work and worry for me rather than lessening my burden. He wasn't fit to be a father. He wasn't even a man, just a boy and a very broken boy at that. I am curious by nature though and it still eats away at me. I wish I knew why. I wish he could at least explain himself. Even if he just sent a letter or an email. Anything would be better than nothing.
Although I despise what he did, I can't completely hate him because if it weren't for him, Michelle would not exist. As much as she drives me crazy sometimes, she is the love of my life and I know that she was meant to be. Mike was a necessary evil I guess to bring me the greatest blessing of my life.
I still don't know how he could leave but maybe Michelle was still an abstract idea to him at the four month mark. He wasn't connected to her like I was. Maybe if he'd seen the ultrasound. Maybe if he'd heard her heartbeat. Maybe if he saw her being born. I think that if he had met her, there's no way he could have walked away. Although I have spoken with other single Moms who said that heartbreakingly their child's father left AFTER the baby was born. That would be much worse. At least I had several months to adjust to the idea before Michelle was born. At least she never had to hear us argue. Except maybe in utero but that was in the first trimester. I hope she couldn't hear or absorb much back then.
In the end, Mike is the one who lost everything. He left his first real home, the chance to have a family and possibly the only woman who ever really loved him. He doesn't get to know his daughter, the sweetest little girl in the world. He doesn't get to hold her, to see her smile and hear her giggle. Yes he'll never have to change a diaper or listen to her scream at night (he was a night owl too so it probably wouldn't have bothered him). He has escaped the responsibility but he's missing out on the joy, the love. Of course if he's curious he can watch from a distance, following this blog and my Youtube channel for glimpses of his daughter. People have told me that it's not really fair because he still gets to see how we're doing if he wants to and we don't get to know anything about him. I'm an open book and he's a closed one. It's OK. I write this blog for me not for him. Maybe he wants to forget anyway. Maybe it would be too painful to see his child knowing he can never be part of her life. Though he did have a very curious nature. He'd only have to Google my name to find the blog and it's listed on all my other websites (he knew about my Twitter, Youtube etc.) Well, if you are reading this Mike, thank you for my little Michelle. You were the worst thing that ever happened to me but she is the best. I love her more than life itself. It's been a year now. I wonder if you can find the courage and integrity to send an explanation and apology. An email would do. And some money would help too!