Dear, Dad

It’s been a year and ten months since I was forced to let you go.

Since I was forced to let go of your hand that had begun to go cold around my own.

Since I was forced to memorize how it felt and what it looked like: the freckles and spots; the deep lines running down your palm; the permanent dark stain under your nails — a symbol of your countless hours working in dirt and grease.

A year and ten months since not just a father was lost, but also a Friend. Husband. Brother. Uncle. Nephew. Coworker. Fishing buddy.

My biggest fan.

A year and ten months later I’m still struggling not to cry at some point everyday. If I sit quietly for more than a few minutes, my mind inevitably wanders to you.

When I see an older man on the street, I think of you.

When I see a man carrying his daughter on his shoulders, You.

When I see someone from the military, You.

When I hear Billy Joel or Elton John or The Beatles, You.

When I see blue eyes, You.

Feel the sunshine, You.

Smell fresh flowers, You.

Tend to my garden, You.

Everything.

You.

It’s so beautiful.

It’s so painful.

When I’m back home I find myself waiting to hear your footsteps down the hall. I had memorized them, you know; the cadence of your walk and the sound of your feet pressing into the floor. I knew them by heart.

I’d know them still.

On a Saturday in August, 2013 I drove you to three different grocery stores. You stayed in the car, exhausted and weak, but patiently, while I ran around looking for kale and spinach and acai powder and all of these other random products that boasted cancer-reducing benefits. I was convinced that if I could just get you to drink this all-powerful smoothie, it would do what 44 straight hours of chemo couldn’t, nor the additional chemo and drugs and therapies after that. This smoothie would take the cancer away, though.

You’d start getting better. We’d have more time together. I was convinced it would work.

I was desperate for it to work.

It had to.

You died a week later.

One year and ten months ago, my life and the way I would feel every single day for the rest of it completely changed.

Navigating life without you is a constant struggle, but there is one thing I know for sure: It keeps going.

That sometimes I curl up in a ball on the floor and cry for you and for all the days you’ve missed and all the days you will keep missing and I do not know how I can take one more second of this pain.

But it keeps going.

That sometimes all I wish is for someone to mention your name so that I’m reassured that you haven’t been forgotten because my biggest fear is that people will forget you.

But it keeps going.

That wonderful things and amazing people have come into my life since you left and it’s heart-shattering that you are not physically here to share in these moments and these people.

But it keeps going.

It’s that grieving you will always be present in me.

But grief is not solitary.

Happiness and sadness are not opposites.

They can coexist.

They coexist in me everyday.

They have to.

I love you.

Happy Father’s Day.

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Love,

M.

2 thoughts on “Dear, Dad

  1. Read your other article on elephant journal. I lost my father 5 months ago to cancer, well sepsis but the cancer came first, I watched him pass. Took care of him, spent time and helped as much as I could when he got sick a few years ago. Felt everything you have written and saw my father in so much pain that I wish I could have taken away. You just verbalized all I have whirling in my head and heart. It is painful, everyday, but it is beautiful. I actually started writing letters to him the other night as a means to maybe help with the feelings and vacant space in my heart so it is interesting I stumbled upon your entry. I’m 24 and its safe to say I have never experienced anything like this or met anyone that has. Along with having to be the executor (what a shit shit show). I am in awe with how much I identify with you. So thank you. Thank you very much.

    Like

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