A Letter Of Thanks To My Daddy On Father's Day
When my father passed away in May 2011, while death had previously impacted my life, losing him was unlike any emotional pain I'd ever experienced. His death literally sucked the oxygen out of my body. It felt hard to breathe. It suddenly felt like a large chunk of who I was; my DNA, my touchstone, the person who had been with me since the very first day of my human experience was no longer tangible. I couldn’t just pick up the phone and hear his voice, I couldn’t wrap my arms around him and envelop him in a bear hug, I couldn't tell him how much I simply adored being in his presence. I was simply out of time. I’d never felt the sting of death in this way- or comprehended the type of finality it entailed.
The truth is none of us have enough time. There’s never enough time to be with those you love. And even after years of his chronic health problems, and the idea that I could somehow make peace with the fact that we were going to lose my father, whether he died at 68 or at 88– I think it would always feel like there was never enough time to spend with him. I’d always want more; one last kiss, one last chance to say I loved him, one last chance to see a twinkle in his eye, one last chance to see him hug his grand kids and yes even one last time to see him curse out Jeopardy host Alex Trebek for seeming so arrogant while telling players they got answers wrong- while he held cards with the answers– that was my dad. Ultimately losing him at 68 has changed the trajectory of all of our lives. I think death in a family does that– it just changes everything.
The loss of my dad has forced me to re-evaluate the limits I put on myself and the relationships I hold dear. It’s brought my tolerance for other people’s bad energy to zero, and so if I don’t feel like being in a situation where I know I’ll be uncomfortable, where I would have sucked it up in the past, now I just won’t do it. It’s also made me acutely aware of how utterly short our time is here, and that once the switch on our life is turned off, that’s it, we’re done.
I want to say I believe in the afterlife– and I am forever looking for pennies, butterflies, some sign from my dad– but sadly I’ve gotten nothing- and I guess right now, at this moment in time- I believe this is it. The right here and now- it’s all we have and all we can truly enjoy. And oddly enough that was the attitude my dad had – one I never could quite grasp. He never seemed to truly allow any situation to get him mired in sadness, pity or doubt. He just moved along, whistling, (Hand to Gd he really did whistle) and being this incredibly optimistic force. I miss him like crazy cakes- I want to talk to him every day, I want to hear someone call me Mel, I want to hug his tiny, frail body, I want to see his toothless grin (he’d scare us and take out his dentures and smile every so often).
I want to wrap my arms around him and tell him how grateful I am for all the times I never told him how much I appreciated him- like when I drove my car to Georgia, and it died on me- and I flew back on a plane and my daddy saved the day and drove down there and brought it back up. I miss my daddy, my hero, the first man I ever loved. But I can’t spend every day feeling spiteful, angry at the universe, angry that he was taken, angry that he’s not here to share in the joys of my kids. I can’t walk around in a haze of sorrow and self pity because that would be antithetical to the way he lived his life.
So to my dad, happy Father's day wherever you are, if indeed you are anywhere. If a soul does live on in some form or energy I want to believe you are soaring, like a star burst, just all light and love. And Daddy, thank you for all the gifts you've given me, especially the gift of understanding the value of time and that I need to be cognizant and appreciative of every day I have on this planet and with those I hold dear.