Over a decade ago, I lost my job and family because I didn’t take myself seriously. After slowly piecing my life together, I finally have a chance at redemption with my estranged daughter.
I used to be an ambitious young man with the world at my feet. I always saw myself running my own business, and for a while, I believed that I was on the right path. Looking back, I think this passion made my ex-wife, Rebecca, first fall in love with me. She even supported me during the humble beginnings of my old repair shop.
Rebecca and I had our daughter, Harriet, during this time. Unfortunately, my repair shop went bankrupt. I began to feel depressed and lost motivation. I worked as a waiter to make ends meet, but I couldn’t provide a stable lifestyle for my family.
“When are you going to get a real job?” Rebecca asked me. I had no answer. Even though I had a great relationship with Harriet during her childhood, my marriage slowly fell apart.
Rebecca and I fought all the time, and we grew further apart. One day, I was called into the restaurant and told they could no longer keep me on the staff. “We’re going to have to let you go, Jimmy,” my manager told me.
At the time, I was at such a low point in my life that I didn’t even care. Perhaps I thought Rebecca could care for me while I looked for a new job. That day I went home and took a walk with my family. Harriet was riding in her little car with foot pedals. Rebecca had a solemn demeanor, and I sensed something was wrong.
“I’m leaving you, Jimmy. I just can’t do this anymore. It’s obvious that you’ve given up on everything,” She told me. In one day, my entire world had come crashing down. I tried to convince Rebecca to give me one more chance, but her mind had already been made up. I gave my daughter a big hug.
“Mom always told me you were a loser and I should forget about you, but I can see that you’ve changed.”
“Daddy will always love you no matter, okay Harriet?” I told her. I could tell that she didn’t understand what was going on. By the following day, Rebecca and Harriet were out of the house, and I was all alone. Rebecca took full custody of our daughter as I was unemployed.
It was only then that I realized how much of a loser I was. I couldn’t even take care of Harriet as I had no savings or job lined up. In what felt like a few months, Rebecca had already moved in with a new partner, Eric. “Until you get your life in order, don’t even think about talking to Harriet,” Rebecca told me.
I used the last of my money to buy Harriet a gift for her birthday party, a small bunny rabbit. I also wrote a note which read, “I miss you so much. Happy Birthday. Love Daddy.”
When I reached Eric’s house, I saw he was pretty rich. He had thrown a big birthday party for Harriet, with mascots and a jumping castle. I felt ashamed. My daughter had a new dad. Eric could provide Harriet with things I couldn’t even dream of buying.
I left my gift at their front gate and left. At this point, I was in a very dark place and couldn’t see a way forward. I decided to leave the coast and move cities. All I had to my name was the house my father, Frank, left me.
Since I was flat broke, I sold the house and moved into an apartment in a town in a different state.
I worked odd jobs at times to make a bit of money. Two years after I left my family behind, I was broke again. The following month, I was evicted. I found myself out on the street with nowhere to turn.
I can’t keep living like this, I realized. I walked into the local store and begged for a job. The manager recognized me from around town and gave me a chance as a cleaner in the store. In the next few months, I was promoted to cashier, and within a year, I was made administrator of the whole store.
Even though I was finally financially stable and had cleaned up my act, I was still very lonely. Years flew by, and I still wasn’t in contact with any of my family, and I had no real friends. I regularly gave some of my money to charity because I had no one to spend it on.
That all changed today, as for the first time in ages, I received mail that wasn’t an outstanding bill. It was a Christmas letter from Harriet!
It has been 13 years since I’ve seen I have seen or heard from my daughter but I’ve been blessed with a Christmas miracle. Her words warmed my heart in a way that I haven’t felt in years. Her letter read:
“Hi, Dad. I’ve finally found you! This may come as a shock, but I’ll be flying in to see you tomorrow. We have so much to talk about. Even though mom and Eric provided me with everything growing up, I always wondered when you would come back.
Mom always told me you were a loser and I should forget about you, but I can see that you’ve changed and got yourself together. Just so you know, I still have the stuffed bunny you left me for my birthday. I named him Jimmy, so in a way, you’ve been with me all along!
See you soon. I love you, and I can’t wait.
Merry Christmas, Dad!”
This is the most incredible day of my life. I’ve missed my daughter so much, and I never thought I’d get this opportunity. I changed my life for the better and did what I could to help my community.
Although I felt too ashamed to return home, God has blessed me with a second chance with Harriet. This time, I’ll do everything I can to make her proud and make up for all the time we missed together. After 13 long years, I finally have my shot at redemption.
Have you ever had a moment when you needed to start life with a clean slate? How did you survive it?
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