It has been almost two months since you have been gone. And the reality that you are actually gone is becoming more and more clear to me. And as that realization becomes clearer, I find myself crying more often. I am sobbing even now as I write this letter to you, squinting at the vision of my computer screen, blurred with tears.
It is so hard to explain—to explain the grieving process. But I know you know how it goes. I watched you handle yourself so well when Grandpa passed away when I was 19 years old. But two months after Grandpa died, I also found you in your bedroom completely collapsed on your bed, holding your father’s portrait in your hands. I’ll never forget that day. It was the first time I ever saw you cry. You became human to me that afternoon. And seeing you with those new eyes made me love you all the more.
Now here I am in your place. I handled myself well when you died. I cried, sure, but I stayed focused. I made your video montage, the scrapbook, and wrote that eulogy for you. I read my piece at the funeral, set up the video projector, and talked with all the friends and family who came to grieve with us. I cried less on the day of your funeral than any of the days prior. I wondered if people would judge me based on that. I put you in a box that day, emotionally. And I let the need to be focused—the need to meet people’s needs push away the raw pain so many others allowed themselves to feel that day.
Then it was back to work. Back to being a wife. Back to being a mom. Back to being pregnant. The times I allowed myself time to think about you and miss you and grieve for you were in between those moments of duty—driving in my car. Driving from where I had to play Theresa the teacher to the next place, where I would play Theresa the wife and mother. I had very little down time. And it is the down time, where we can feel safe enough to just mourn. To just feel and to think and to miss you.
But also…..there are the reminders that you are gone that I didn’t get as much over the last two months as someone like Linda. Linda spent every day with you. She slept with you, lived with you, went to work with you. Your absence is clear to her every minute of the day.
I saw you like once or twice a month. I talked with you two or three times a month on the phone. We texted each other once or twice a week. We emailed each other once a week or so as well. So even though I know you are gone, it is not until those times of contact go unfilled that the actual feeling of your absence becomes clear. Well it has been two months Daddy. I should have seen you at least twice now. I should have talked with you about four times and we should have texted each other and emailed each other at least eight times by now. I am feeling your absence Daddy. And I am missing you terribly.
I will no longer get funny texts from you with pictures of you and Linda on your adventures. I will no longer get your emails with attached art you created for me to enjoy or political emails or inappropriate jokes. I will no longer feel your warm hugs when I come to your house or hear your deep voice on the phone.
I am so sad that you are gone Daddy. Jameson will be here in 6 weeks and I am so sad that I will not see you in the hospital room. I am so sad that Jameson will not meet the greatest man in my life next to my husband.
Daddy—you were only 57 years old. But the autopsy came today and they said you accidentally drowned. I don’t understand why you had to die so young and so unexpectedly. I trust God in His ways, but it doesn’t mean I understand Him all the time.
There are moments when I forget. Someone will walk by and they look like you and I’ll take a double take until I catch myself and remember, it can’t be you. I’ll call Linda to ask her something and she won’t be home and that darn answering machine comes on and I hear your baritone voice and for a moment, its like you are really there, its like I’m talking to you—and then I remember. I’ll be going through my voicemail, erasing the old ones, and then I get to the last one you left me—a week before you left on vacation to Maui. And again—here you are talking to me in the same tone you always have. My heart stops for a moment….And then I remember. And its at these moments daddy, these moments when I remember, when I realize, when I know…..and each time, you die all over again. And with that, a little piece of the illusion that you are still here dies too.
I do not know when the last fragment of this illusion will die. I do not know how long it takes before your voice message is taken off your answering machine. Before your clothes are sold or given away or Linda puts away that jar of peanuts that still sits beside your recliner in the living room. Before I stop taking double takes at your look alikes in the county. I do not know when I will stop looking at your page on Facebook or perhaps when it gets erased. Or when your voice mail to me accidentally gets erased or disappears when I sell my phone or change my phone number. I do not know when Jameson will point at a picture of you and say, “who is that?” And I will have to tell him stories and show him more pictures and try so hard to get him to truly know and appreciate you the way his cousins or brother do. And he probably won’t because that is how it goes when you never meet the person and I will have to deal with the hurt and the frustration that he doesn’t know. That he doesn’t appreciate the most compassionate man I ever had in my life. The man who was the heart of our family and who is now gone and with that absence has left a massive hole, a massive void in our lives. A void my Jameson won’t even realize exists because he will never know what it was like when it wasn’t there.
Your son, Anthony made a post yesterday morning on your page on Facebook. It said something like “I wish. I wish. I wish I had one more wish.” Me too Daddy. Had I known I would never see you again, I would have called you more. I would have visited you more. I wouldn’t have allowed the business of life give me permission to say “tomorrow.” I would have gone out to happy hour with you that day you left your last message on my voicemail. I would have called you when you were on vacation in Maui and apologized for bothering you but would have told you something, everything, anything. Anything but “I would have.”
Thank you Daddy for pulling me out of my downward spiral after high school. Thank you daddy for giving me a home and paying for my school at Palomar. Thank you for being there for me through all my successes and failures. For loving me through moments of integrity and purity and yet also my selfishness and pride. Thank you for always opening up your home to my sister, brother, and I when we needed help. For always hoping and expecting the best for us even when we didn’t have that same belief. Thank you for being so loving and accepting of my husband Owen. Thank you for making him so quickly a part of the family and being joyful with us through our adventures of marriage and our pregnancy.
There is more to come from me Daddy. I’m not done writing letters to you. I pray I never will be done.
I love you. I miss you. I do not know if you are able to hear me right now or read this letter. I do not know how Heaven works. But I cling to God’s promise that He has made a house for you. And that you are there with Him. And that I will see you again.