Ten Years: a Poem by Robert J. S. T. McCartney

Ten Years [For Zelda]

By Robert J. S. T. McCartney


One

I thought my life was done; when you and your mom almost died.

Two

Darkness took over and nearly ruined my life. I was very blue.

Three

I realized that nothing was going to change by sitting on my hands. I made a change and started to get better. You grew up so much since the last year; I knew the kind of kid you’d grow to be.

Four

I watched you grow and saw how you made people smile. Your laughs were contagious, and soon you’d start school. I still struggled with myself and fought with my mind. The guilt I harbored was massive and cut me to the core.

Five

Your sassiness was profound. You were the perfect blend of your mother and I. Without a doubt, you and your mother brought me joy. I was still wading through the darkness. I’d grit my teeth and fight the pain to stay alive.

Six

Enduring the rollercoaster ride as I stumbled along to keep control. I’d lose my way here and there; fighting myself and getting lost in my abysmal dismal thoughts. Your mom and I struggled to get you the equipment you needed and stood against those who would deny you. It was a taste of something we knew a life this way we would endure, but we knew that together, we could do it. I strayed and started to get lost in alcohol to try to help numb the pain. I had built up a wall with flesh, bone, and despair bricks.

Seven

This was the year when you found out you were going to be a big sister. It would be a new adventure. I wanted to be ready. As hard as I tried, I  know I could have done better. Even as I got help and started to show improvement, I’d take two steps forward and fall two more. I struggled to see the joy of having a perfect family. I often found myself outside looking to heaven.

Eight

Ah, your sassiness was so contagious that your baby sister caught on quick. You slowly opened up to having a sister. I was starting to find my way out of the darkness. My alcoholism would soon be kicked to the curb. I took up arms to further better myself: eating, working out, making an effort to be there for you and your sister. You were growing up too fast for your mom and me. The tears I once shed for the memory of a tragedy, were now tears of joy of having you still. I was beginning to let go all the feelings I had harbored, especially, hate.

Nine

Soon, we would leave our old home and move. It was a new start for us all. I relapsed and retreated into the darkness. I had found some comfort, but the feelings gnawed at me. The realizations and truths uncovered left me scared for us. It would be some time, but I would finally emerge victoriously. I improved my body and mind and would find a balance. I took up the craft that I believed I was destined for. I’ve watched you grow up this far and wonder where has it all gone—time?

Ten

The darkness has subsided and I am myself. I still can’t believe that it’s been ten years. You’ve become such a beautiful girl with a contagious laugh and smile. You’re our world and more, and even though you can be a crabby crab, we love you very much. It’s taken me this long to finally find the strength to cast off my shackles of guilt and blame. I can smile and laugh and be myself. I’ve come to manage my PTSD, depression, and anxiety. I’ll keep fighting and being here for you, mom, and your sister. I know it’s just another year to some, but you’ll always be our little bugaboo and pumpkin. Happy birthday to our Princess Zelda on your tenth.


For Zelda

Love Dad

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