“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

When I was six, my dad let me go.

He chose a life that drove my family apart and forced my mom and I to move overseas. I wouldn't see him for fifteen years, and I promised to never forgive him.

Feeling betrayed by a parent is the most poignant pain my heart has felt. My dad was supposed to protect me from this crazy world. Yet, he wasn't even a part of it.

Now fifteen years later, older and wiser, I watched him as he stood at the bottom of the staircase looking at me with the same warmth and sparkle in his eyes that I remembered as a child. I ached and wanted to cry and pound my fists against his chest as he wrapped his arms around me, but nothing came out.

I realized that no matter what I blamed him for, no matter how much I resented him for driving us apart, he was still my dad – he loved me and was hurting as much as I was.

And so we mourned, we matured, and we moved on. We needed to forgive, even if we couldn't forget.

So, I will forgive. I will forgive myself. I will forgive my dad. I will forgive others. I will accept the uncertainties of life and turn change into opportunity.

Most importantly, I will live with an open heart, because only then will I be able to live fully, deeply, truly.

— Alexandra Pintchouk