This is a process I’ve yet to encounter: Twenty-six years and I’m learning grief. Except, instead of denial, I am learning acceptance. It is so confusing that you could not see the little girl that stood before you in your kitchen, as you leaned on the counter. With arms crossed like a shield, my reality and hope for us was bypassed. Twenty-six years and I have sought for you to see or care or empathize, at the very least, hear. I realize now that is not something I will receive, because your illness robs you of these most essential elements. I have been a mirror that reflects an ever-rising expectation. Maybe I had hoped far too fiercely that the bar had been eliminated. I now grieve that it remains and is steady, as if locked in by the weight you feel you carry. Twenty-six years and I would have loved to see it all differently. I pictured frames that held eyes of reciprocity and reconciliation. I hoped for phone calls without strain for subjects. I close my eyes and see that our relationship has been like standing on the edge of an angry ocean. I could never get too close, because the expectation of who you wanted me to be and how you wanted me to act came barreling down. So I stood at the shoreline; I remained on the surface. This work, my work, of understanding who I am has reached its point. I have discovered the birthplace of my guilt, insecurity, inadequacy, my critical inner-voice, and I am determined to swim. Twenty-six years and I am the daughter you never really desired to know. Now comes a heartbreaking and necessary silence knowing I tried. I cannot mend what I did not break. I want to, have to, brave these expectations and find the calm sea, because I need to know me.