Throughout my life, I have had a great knowledge of who my father was and what he did. My father was known throughout the community as a “Quartet Great” and a pastor. I knew him as the father that everyone else knew better than I did.
It was weird to see him around the city and at the many singing events that I would attend, knowing that my only relationship with him was a glimpse, a quick hello, or an awkward hug and an “I love you, you know that” from him in passing. I would see him with my sisters that he parented with a different woman after my mom, and it was so strange to see him interact as a father with them. He and my mother had been separated for years and my mother would allow me to interact with him whenever he would inquire, but I had no knowledge of him as a caretaker, father, comforter, or overseer. These other sisters actually had access to him, and I had no idea how that felt.
Over the years, I would try to build a bond with him and allow him to take on the role of a father, but it was to no avail. I would still run into him whenever I was out singing or enjoying musical events and we would do our normal, “Hello, how are you,” but I would feel awkward, and I didn’t know what to do with those feelings.
When I heard the news of his death this past September, I didn’t know how to feel, because I was mourning a man that I didn’t really even know. Even so, I couldn’t keep myself from crying.
I consulted with my mother, my sister that my mother shared with my father, and my friends to try and figure out what my feelings were. I began having a relationship with two of my sisters that my father parented with another woman, and as difficult as it was, it was beginning to feel like a new place to share a bond. During his funeral services, I had the opportunity to talk with my other siblings that my father parented with other women, and we’ve all decided to make efforts to get to know each other. I have a brother that looks just like my father, as well as five new sisters, and trying to navigate these new relationships is definitely a process.
Since his death, I have realized that the lack of relationship with my father is the reason I was afraid to let men into my life, but I have started working towards building a healthy relationship with a significant other. I have learned to be more open and vulnerable in my relationships. I have learned to love unconditionally, and to accept whatever comes from that unconditional love. I have learned to communicate my needs and to be open to meet the needs of the ones that I love.
I have learned how to be in a space of forgiveness; not only for myself but for others. I have learned how to love the people that are connected to the people that I love, even if it’s painful. I have learned to love myself more, and to know that even in my vulnerabilities, I am still great. I have developed a relationship with my other siblings and their children, and I am getting to know them more.
What I have learned is that even in a tragedy, you can still have room to love more.
Schawayna Raie is a national recording artist and philanthropist located in Indianapolis. She is an executive producer of “Schawayna Raie & Friends: A Christmas Benefits Celebration” fundraiser, as well as the creator of Uplift Your Sister, which presents the annual PhenomeMOM Awards. You can connect with Schawayna on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram, as well as on her websites www.SchawaynaRaie.com and www.UpliftYourSister.org.
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