Where the hell are you? I know you’re in Kansas, but that’s just your skin and bones.

I’d wish you a happy birthday but I can’t. I want you to itch. I want you to ache. I want you to have nightmares and restlessness until the shadow you’re under is crystal clear.

You were the first face of Christ I saw. You loved me no-matter-what. You believed in justice—even when it was difficult.

Can’t you see you’re as broken as anyone you hate?

How can you cling to self-righteousness anymore? How can you live this life every day oblivious to the shambles we all live in? We’re all Mary Magdalene. We’re all so confused. “When I was a child…” I thought I was blameless. When I was a child I thought I could be good on my own. When I was a child…life was a cloudy fantasy.

Your son struggles to love you against the yoke you’ve nailed into his new flesh. A father is the first face of God. I wonder what salvation looks like to a boy who can’t become a man unless he fights his father’s battles? Compliance isn’t a prerequisite for love. Obedience isn’t something a man can beat into another. You’ll never find peace or love or family at the end of your justice.

Our fathers’ shadows are long and black. Isn’t ours? Grace is only power when held by grace.

Years ago, I hunched myself over an old bench and begged God to save your life. I wish I’d known your soul would bleed so long and deep. I wish I’d known I’d lose you anyway.

In my dreams I’ve let you go—but not lately. Your face is a distorted memorial in my mind. My hero was stolen by hate and lust years ago. I try to remember who you were before the women and drugs and money.

You think you know me. You think you know what and how I’m doing. I smile every evening while turning the key to a “mansion” I manipulated willing fools to buy for me. I embrace my idiot brother’s latest stupidity and breath freely knowing I’m so…much…better.

I wish you could see the dreams of death and loss I have every week. I wish you could hear my voice crack when I remember you. I wish you knew I don’t look down on you—I can’t see you at all. I lost a mother when I was young.

I gazed helplessly at her casket as it lowered into the ground and locked away from me for no good reason. I never knew someone I loved so much would do that to me again of their…own…free…will.

May your birthday be full of peace, but not happiness. May your year be your greatest, but not your best.

I pray you spread lamb’s blood over your doorpost and fall face first into the dirt.

If you will, I will.


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