Her birth name is Corie Elizabeth Hurley. But, she prefers to be called Anastasia Hurley, which is her Orthodox saint’s name. She is the reason I never became a priest. I wanted to be married so I could have a child. From the moment she entered this world on September 19, 1984, she has dominated my heart and my life. I have never loved anyone as much as Corie Beth. Sweet, kind, intelligent, sentimental, relentless, loves the underdog, vulnerable with a smile that lights up everyone around her, she is the most memorable person I know. I love my daughter beyond words. And, I have not seen or heard from her in three years. I do not expect Father’s Day tomorrow to change that fact. I will pretend it is just another day.
What happened to us?
I honestly have no idea. I have several guesses, but I really don’t know as I sit here typing. My instincts tell me that Corie Beth is angry at me blaming me for the divorce that broke apart our family 15 years ago. That is a long time to be bitter, I know. But, it is the most logical reason that fits this very painful estrangement. My prayer every day is the same. I would like to know what I really did to make her go away so I can apologize to her for it.
I have so many memories of my daughter and I over the past twenty-five years. Reading books to her until she fell asleep at night. Going trick and treating on Halloween. (She was dressed as a belly dancer and I was this giant genie guy with a turban. She got the candy, I got the weird looks!) Playing an English butler to her tea parties. Taking her to gymnastics, horseback riding lessons, playgrounds, swimming pools, Disneyland, the ocean, state parks art institutes, a million movies, Fisherman’s wharf and Christian camps.
She carried a dead mole home once almost giving her mom a heart attack. She has a laugh that can only be described as part neigh, part burping and part gulping. It is hilarious to listen to. She always saved parts of furniture and was irate when I threw out a chair cushion. She wore a homemade Snow White dress every day for three years. She would sit at one of our favorite restaurants every Sunday and stare at herself in the mirror while we begged her to eat her chicken and mashed potatoes. She would get D’s on her book reports which baffled me. When I talked to her fourth grade teacher I was informed, “Corie reads more books than anyone in the class, around twelve every week, but she does not put her NAME on her reports so I have to give her a D! She loves to read but she doesn’t care about the grade!” I was flabbergasted. But, that was my Corie Beth. She was not only a daughter, she was one of a kind.
She hated high school but got her G.E.D. in one of the shortest times in California educational history. She hated school but got her degree at San Diego State University and became a teacher. She auditioned for a theatrical agent and even though the fifteen kids ahead of her in line failed to get signed, the agent who represented the Olsen twins loved Corie and signed her within minutes. My daughter went on one audition and quit the business. Could she have been a major star as a child actress? There is no doubt in my mind, yes. But, that is the nature of my girl. She either loves something or she doesn’t.
She could have been a very good gymnast, an athlete, a television producer, a motivational speaker or a leader in any field she chose. Nope. Corie just loved being Corie.
I miss her. More than life itself. We used to be inseparable. But, somewhere along the way, we lost each other. The way it feels, I don’t expect to hear from her for a long, long time. Perhaps, ever. I recently married and I want to start a new family. But, I will never forget my daughter. She will always be my family. If she ever wanted to be my daughter again, it would be the happiest moment of my life.
There was a moment that touched my heart forever. When Corie Beth was less than a year old, her mom and I took her to Washington D.C. for a Christian conference. I was putting gas in the rental car on our way back to the airport to fly home and as I turned to face the car, Corie Elizabeth was giving me the biggest smile I have ever seen in my life! She just sat there warmly grinning at me as if to say, “I love you, Daddy!” I smiled back. For several seconds we were frozen in time. A moment to remember. Forever.
That moment is with me every day. It will be with me tomorrow as I stare at the phone that will never ring. Corie Beth lives on the East Coast now. She has a man in her life. I wish her the best. I hope she finds her happiness in him. I know she wants to be married. I pray she will have a great marriage to a good man.
A Father’s love for his child never ends. I am Corie Elizabeth Hurley’s dad.
I never became a priest but I gained a daughter. My dream came true. Every day, I ask God to bring her back to me. I will never stop believing He will. I will never stop loving her.
Happy Father’s Day, sweet girl.
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