Dear Dad

My post today is going to be a little different than usual and far more personal. I know that it’s “wellness Wednesday,” but this post does relate to that theme because writing is the only outlet that can help me process my thoughts and emotions. Mental health is an often neglected component of overall wellness, but it’s very important to me. I warn you that it’s quite long and is more for me and Grams than anyone else. As always though, if my grief journey can help someone else on theirs, then I will share my thoughts.

I have written about losing my dad in the past and it remains one of my personal favourite posts to this day. Today is the second year “anniversary” of losing him and as much as I told myself that a milestone like this doesn’t matter, this letter kept writing itself in my head. I would be on the elliptical and composing paragraphs and cooking dinner with tears in my eyes until I finally gave in and wrote it.

I am going out for lunch with Grams today to a quirky little restaurant in our local city. Last year, we spent the first “anniversary” weekend away in Ottawa where we explored the city and spent a lot of time talking. I consider these activities an acknowledgement of how much my dad meant to both of us and a way that we don’t have to be alone on such a challenging day.

letter to meDo you remember the “anniversary” of losing someone close to you?

Dear Dad,

It’s been 2 years to the day since you passed. I can’t say that things have gotten any easier, but they have become different. The loss of you was a shock to my system and it felt as though I had a gaping hole in my body. The hole is still there, but instead of a searing pain, it’s an acute one. There are times when I both randomly and intentionally cry because growing up without you is painful and unfair.

There are many times when I’ve asked Mom, “what do you think Dad would say?” and we do our best to figure it out. It’s not the same though, Dad, as your calm, thoughtful, and caring approach to every situation. It will never be the same and Mom and I are trying to get used to our new normal. It’s heartbreaking that has to mean life without you.

I’m very different now than when I last got to spend time with you, Dad. I was 27 back then and it feels like ages ago, an entirely alternate life. There are a lot of things that I would go back and do differently, but the problem with experience is that you have to go through it in order to learn the lessons from it.

I have become a total country girl. That’s right, no more rap and hip hop music. I will never forget when I insisted we listen to one of my rap CDs in your van and you did an impression of my “ridiculous” music that you hated listening to (but did anyway). Physically and emotionally, my body needs the country. From the chaos of your illness and what it did to my spirit, I sought peace and tranquility and that’s where I found it.

letter to deceased dadThe first house that I bought, which you worked so hard to make into a home for me, had a tree in the yard that you loved. One of the first things I want to do at the cottage is plant one just like it and put a plaque on it so that you can be there with us. People ask me how I was able to buy three properties before the age of 30 and my answer is always the same: because of my Dad.

That’s my answer for a lot of things in my life. You taught me to be practical, frugal, savvy, and kind and I still adhere to the lessons that I learned from you. I am also lucky enough to be married to a man just like you and, in so many ways, my marriage mimics yours, which I am very proud of. JP is my peace, my sanity, and my rock, just like you were to Mom.

When I was a little girl and people asked who I wanted to marry, I always said, “my dad.” I didn’t understand what it meant to be married, but I did understand that it would mean we would always be together. In a way, I did get to marry you through JP. I have always strived to make you proud and that will never change.

I wanted to do first look pictures with both my husband-to-be and my dad on my wedding day. You featured so heavily into my vision for that very special day and while the focus would be on me and JP, it was also supposed to be meaningful for our relationship. Most of my friends are married, which I’m grateful for because I can’t watch fathers walk daughters down the aisle and I can’t watch father/daughter dances.

I never imagined losing the chance to share those experiences with you, but so many things in life are not certain even when we desperately need them to be. I am not sure if that pain will ever fade or if I will still be crying when my own daughter gets married and shares those moments with JP. By then, I hope that I can watch my daughter’s happiness, think of happy memories with you, and smile through my tears.

father daughterWhen you were still here, I remember receiving an email from you in the middle of the night. I can picture you downstairs with Mom’s tablet, contemplating what your illness and eventual death would mean for us. At that time, you knew it was coming, but Mom and I were still vehemently denying it because we just couldn’t live with the knowledge that we were going to lose you.

When I read your email, I cried and cried because all you wanted was to ensure that Mom would be okay without you. Others in your situation would sob, rage, and beg for more time, but you never did any of that. You simply accepted your reality and wanted to do what you could to spare us from feeling any pain. The depth of your selflessness brings me to tears.

I know that you were worried about the weight that I gained. I wasn’t thinking about self-care when you were sick, but I am now. I’m making a lot of progress and doing my best to live a healthy lifestyle. You would be so happy to know that Mom is doing it, too. You also used to worry about the toxins in household products and you fretted that using chemical cleaners would cause cancer, which is another legacy you left me.

It’s painfully ironic that you ended up getting that awful disease, which far too many people do. But, Dad, it wasn’t in vain. I make all my own products now and your grandchildren will not eat off dishes that have been cleaned with chemicals or have their bodies washed in chemicals. That’s because of you and I will certainly be telling them all about you.

dad and daughterIt makes me sad that you never got to see B being a wonderfully behaved boy. When you knew him, he was poorly trained and jumped all over everyone. JP and I have worked hard to fix that and you’d love your little grandpup now. You always used to buy pet friendly salt for your house in the winter even though you didn’t have a dog. When I asked why you did that, you said, “because other people do.” And that was you, Dad, to a T.

I remember having my spinal surgery as though it were yesterday. Mom always tells me that you were crying more than she was because you were so worried about me. I have a lot of health challenges at the moment and sometimes I feel like that scared little girl in the hospital again who was begging to stay with her Dad while they wheeled her away to surgery. Sometimes, you just need your dad.

We meant the world to each other and had such a special relationship. I’m going to get through all my health issues and go on to accomplish so much in my life that I wish you could see. I have to settle for knowing that you would be pleased with the things that I’m doing and how I’m choosing to live my life. It’s all that’s left.

I have gotten my faith back since you passed, but so many things about God and spirituality are still a mystery. Mom believes in her heart that you can still see us and I am not sure exactly what I believe. There are some things the living will simply never know for sure. What I do know is that I will live my life as though you are watching and try to emulate your kind spirit as much as I can.

I will always be a Daddy’s girl and I will always be proud to be your daughter. I’m a better person because of you and I love you.

Scarlet.

father daughter hands

 

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48 thoughts on “Dear Dad

      1. You’re welcome and thank you. I wish it was too but unfortunately it isn’t… I wrote off April as a month because of it.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. My mom and I spent some time together talking and reminiscing. As soon as we can get up to the cottage, we will plant our tree and put up our plaque.

        Do you do something to mark the day?

        Liked by 1 person

      3. That’s going to be so beautiful!
        No, I do absolutely nothing. I go off on anyone who thinks we should go out to eat together or something. I’m like what are we celebrating or trying to have a good time for?

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I can totally understand that thinking. My mom and I did go out for lunch, but it was more to spend time together than anything else. Also, I do believe in celebrating my Dad’s life and acknowledging the day by being together, which is what our lunch tried to do. I definitely think it would be crazy to celebrate a loved one’s death!

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      5. That’s true but in some cases, it seems as if it’s almost a celebration. Like you said, celebrating a loved ones death is definitely crazy to do which is why I don’t do anything that could be misconstrued as celebrating.

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      6. I’m very unapologetic about my grief journey. It’s so different for everyone. If people misconstrue taking my mom out for lunch, I actually don’t care, lol. I’m doing what feels good for us and knowing my dad the way that I do, he would be just fine with that (and thrilled we were spending more time together).

        Liked by 1 person

      7. That’s good! I hope it stays like that. Also, I’m sure your dad would want you guys to spend far more time together, not just on his anniversary day or month.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Such beautiful words. Thank you for sharing. I’m grateful that I still have a lot of my family with me. One of those that I dread losing is my dad. I know it will happen, we all will pass away. I cherish the time I have with him. Which reminds me, I need to schedule a trip to see Grandpa, the only grandparent I have left. Thank you for the reminder.

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    1. Thank you for taking the time to read my letter. I’m glad that you are grateful for your loved ones and make time to see them. It makes me very sad when people don’t because I’d give anything for the opportunity.

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  2. Sending so much love darling. Am so sorry for your loss and it must be awful, your dad not being here.

    All can think of that is good is that it sounds as if he knows that you loved him so much, and that you were so close. So there’s nothing for you to regret.

    Sending cuddles xxx

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  3. I’m so sorry for your loss. That’s such a beautiful letter to your father. I also lost my father…when I was just 5 years old. I will never forget him and have beautiful memories of him. Hold your memories close to your heart! πŸ™‚

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  4. Wow, beautiful heartfelt letter. You almost made me cry. I still have my Dad, I’m sorry yours passed away too soon, but you sure made me think how hard life would be if I didn’t have my Dad. Your Dad seems like he raised a strong and smart woman. I think he would be so proud of you and would probably cry over this letter. I’m glad you found God again, sometimes it takes a difficult timr to truly see him. For me it was a mental health issue. I don’t know how he knows but I’m sure your Dad does know when you think about him, talk to him, remember him, and everything inbetween.

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    1. It is very hard to be without him. There are many times that I have thought, “I need to tell Dad this” only to realize that I can’t. There are so many experiences in my life that I wish I could share with him. I’m glad that you appreciate your dad and are grateful for his presence!

      Thank you for reading.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Beautiful letter! If your dad could see you right now, I bet he’d be very proud. I’m sorry for your loss, and it’s great that you have regained your faith! πŸ™‚ Personally I have never really been connected to my family, but I’m sure that it is time to change that. If I don’t, it will probably be one of the things I regret when I am older …. Anyways, your dad is probably looking down and smiling at you from heaven. ❀ XO GraySkies

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  6. I can tell from your letter you experienced more LIFE with your father in the “limited” time you had, than many experience over a prolonged lifetime. It is a blessing (as painful as it may feel) to be able to hurt, cry, laugh and reminisce about your time together. He will remain in you heart forever, which is where he belongs. I’ll bet that tree you intend to plant will also symbolize your strength that will provide “growth” as long as you need to develop into the person you seek to be.
    I guarantee your father is proud of the woman/person you have already become.

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    1. I think no matter how long he lived, I wouldn’t think it was long enough. It just feels like he’s missing all the “good stuff” in my life: becoming a woman, getting married, having kids…but at least I had him through my formative years and his influence and spirit will always live in my heart, you’re right.

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  7. This is emotional to read. I also know someone who lost their dad a few years back and I’ve seen her struggle through things everyday. Despite this, that makes you stronger and to fight everyday to get better and grow stronger is a great thing. It takes heartache, pain, and extreme mental breakdowns to get better, but things do get better. xoxo

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    1. I am definitely a better person now and I have learned so much. I wish it didn’t take losing my dad for that to happen, but at least now his lessons can live on through me. Thank you for reading!

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  8. A very beautiful and touching letter, thanks for sharing! I’m very close to my father as well and feel fortunate to still have this time with him. Thanks for the reminder that life and time is so precious. Losing a loved one is never easy but you honor your dad by holding on to your memories.

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  9. The letter is a beautiful tribute to your dad and your relationship with him. When the anniversary of my husbands death comes along, I prefer to be alone, if possible. This July, it will be 10 years. I try to have a little private memorial every year. I sit and talk to him, say a prayer, and read the scripture that we used at his funeral..from Ecclesiastes. Last year, I started trying to focus on the positive things that we did together rather than the fact that he is no longer here. Yes, it took me that long! And, I too had a crisis of faith at his passing. I feel my faith is actually stronger now from having had that struggle. And, I have to agree with your mom. I believe those we have lost can still see us and in a mysterious way, help us through our struggles. Not like a “guardian angel,” but just there in thoughts that pop into our minds, feelings of security, etc. It does get better, but I think the hole in our hearts will always be there. That is the reality of loving someone so much and I wouldn’t change that.

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    1. I know that is much different to lose a spouse than a parent and my mom’s grief is very different from my own. I think the depth of it is different. I get to go home at the end of the day to my husband and she has an empty house. I imagine that it gets quite lonely, but she does fill her time with a lot of hobbies and activities.

      I think a lot of people struggle with the idea of God, but especially after a death. I wouldn’t say my faith is as strong as it used to be yet and I am still struggling, but I do have it back and I will continue to work through it. I look forward to the day that I have overcome this faith crisis and I can say that my relationship with God is stronger than ever. I’m not there yet, but that’s okay.

      People have started asking my mom when she is going to date again and some of the ladies that she met in her grief group already are. She said that it’s not something that she’s interested in and she doesn’t think that she ever will be. It’s like you said – she loves my dad SO MUCH that she doesn’t think any other relationship would compare. She doesn’t want to just fill the void and have it not be meaningful. I do wish she would get a dog though πŸ™‚

      Thank you for your kind words and for reading.

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      1. I think you will get to that point in your faith. It just takes a lot of time, struggles, and self reflection. I still have areas where I struggle, like with prayer, but I think that is okay. God understands.
        As far as dating goes, I’m with her. I was 46 when my husband died and I had some people trying to set me up on a blind date within a couple of months. Really? I am, after 10 years, now to a point that I think I could date if the right person fell from the sky, but I’m not actively looking. I give her kudos for not wanting to just feel the void, but willing to go through the grief process. She’ll be better in the end for it, I think.
        Glad that she is in a grief support group. Those can be a lot of help. Something else I did, and still do, is journal. Helped me work through a lot of my feelings, esp. the ones I didn’t feel that I could talk to friends or family about without sounding like a crazy person. Something you both might like to try.

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      2. My mom actually had someone say, “well, you’re still young. You can find someone else” while my dad was STILL ALIVE. She was really upset by that comment (understandably!).

        My mom’s grief counsellor actually suggested that I make a “grandpa box” for my future kids. That way, they can still get to know the kind of man that he was even though they can never meet him. I really like that idea and am going to implement it.

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      3. That is a great idea.
        People need to think before they open their mouths. I would have probably punched whoever said that to your mom if they had said it to me. When my husband was in the hospital, my mom had someone come up to her and ask, “Where is he going to be buried?” not, how is he doing, I hope he gets along okay, but Where is he going to be buried?! I told mom it was a good thing I wasn’t there!

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  10. I am so sorry. I know how you feel, my dad died September 21, 2008. I still think about him all the time. My mom remarried in June and it was probably the hardest weekend of my life after his death. But i am glad she is happy.

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    1. I am sorry for your loss as well. I also have a hard time imagining my mom with someone else, but, like you, I want her to be happy and live a life that is true to herself – whatever that may be!

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  11. I’m so sorry for your loss. I, too, lost mine a little over 2 years ago and it still sometimes feels like it was just yesterday. When my dad was told he had cancer, he only lived 2 months and it was so hard to see him get weaker, be in pain and know that he was dying. It’s never easy no matter what as the bond is often quite strong between father and daughter. I’m terribly sorry that your dad has passed, but he’ll always be with you and smiling down upon you. I love the idea of a grandpa box, that’s such a terrific idea. This was a beautiful post and letter to your dad, thank you for sharing with us.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. After my dad found out he had cancer, we had an 18 month roller coaster. There were many times that we thought he was going to pull through just fine, but unfortunately that is not what ended up happening.

      Since he’s passed, I’ve been researching alternative cancer treatments. I certainly hope that this awful disease never comes knocking again, but if it does, I want to be prepared. I don’t believe that chemo and radiation are effective and I do believe that more people die of their treatments before they can even die from their disease. Knowledge is power, so that’s what I’m trying to get (while I hope and pray I never need to use the information I learn).

      I am sorry for your loss and thank you for your kind words!

      Liked by 1 person

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