A Letter to My Dad

Thank you all for all the comments, tweets, Facebook messages, phone calls, emails, texts and all else regarding my father. As many of you know, he passed away on December 11, 2011 at the age of 60.

I was blessed to spend eight days in Costa Rica earlier this month while he was in the hospital. He couldn’t speak other than through his eyes, but he knew I was beside him. He cried, he blinked to answer my questions, and he let me take care of him as best I could. I got to talk to him a lot and for that I’ll always be grateful.

Less than 12 hours after I got back from that trip, Daddy Roo’s grandfather died. He was 100 and lived a long, full life. I didn’t go with him to Pennsylvania to attend his funeral. I was actually up in Pennsylvania when Dad first went into the hospital (visiting Daddy Roo’s other grandparents). Literally minutes after they all sang Happy Birthday to me (my b-day was on Thanksgiving this year), I got the call about my Dad.

That we needed to get to Costa Rica. That he might not make it.

As much as I wanted to be with my husband for his grandfather’s funeral, I was terrified to go back. Dad had seemed to be improving some, but in case something happened to Dad, I didn’t want to be eight hours from home again. A day and a half after I returned from Costa Rica, Daddy Roo headed to Pennsylvania to attend the funeral.

My worst fear came true on that Sunday morning. I got the news about Dad’s death on the day that Daddy Roo and his brother were driving back from Pennsylvania. I was alone in the house with the kids when I found out. I was a mess.

Last week, six days after I got back from my first trip, I returned to Costa Rica again to attend my Dad’s funeral. And later today, we will honor him here in the United States with a memorial service.

At the funeral, my uncle read letters from me, my stepmom and my aunts (Dad’s sisters). I was asked to write the letter just hours before the funeral. My hand shook when I took the pen in my hand. I worried about not having the right words. But then I wrote how I write the most pure… when I don’t worry if anyone else will think it’s good enough, profound enough, strong enough. I write from the heart and don’t edit until I’m done.

Here’s the letter I wrote to my father…

Dad,

I have this picture of you where you are laughing so hard while holding Noah and Ethan in your arms. You always hated taking pictures – you never wanted to look at the camera – so to me, this picture is priceless.

Because you’re happy, you’re smiling and you were in the moment. Not noticing the click of the camera, but enjoying life and your grandchildren.

That’s the face I see when I think of you. That face. That laugh.

I miss you so much already but I know you are with God. Noah asked me if heaven is further than Costa Rica. I said it was. But you’re actually closer to us now than ever. Because you are with us all the time. Always.

I love you.

Melissa

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Comments

  1. says

    Your letter is beautiful. Welcome to the club I wish none of us ever had to join – the one you’re only part of when a parent dies. It’s been 2.5 years since I lost my dad & I can vouch for you that he’s more a part of our lives now than before. It’s weird how that works. I’m sending along all the strength I can spare to you this holiday season. Be well, friend.
    Debi recently posted..Everyday Nature: SoCal Santa

    • melissa says

      Thanks so much for the kind words, Debi. Yes, it’s a crappy club but comforting to know others can understand and can vouch for them being with us all the time now. Christmas was fun overall- the kids kept me busy- but I finally let the tears really flow when they got to bed. It’s a healing process that I know won’t happen overnight but I’m working through it. Again, thanks for your comment. Means so much.

    • melissa says

      Thanks so much, Joules. Yes, I’m grateful to have flown down there to see him before he passed away. I know many people don’t get that chance.

  2. says

    What a wonderful picture of your Dad, and what a sweet, sweet letter. I’m sitting here with tears in my eyes. I can relate to your loss, having lost my own Dad as well. I’m so very, very sorry. No one will ever replace him. But what a gift you had to have him for the time you did. All is grace.
    Susan in the Boonies recently posted..Caramel Cake: Heaven on a Plate

    • melissa says

      Susan- Thanks for your sweet words. Yes, he was definitely a gift. So sorry about the loss of your father. Whether it’s been days, months or years, it’s always hard.

    • melissa says

      Jocelyn- Thanks so much for the comment. Yes, it’s been tough but I have so many great people to lift me up, including all you guys through your comments and words. :-)

    • melissa says

      Thanks so much Brianna. It was hard letter to write but so glad the words came to me without much effort. Funny how that works.

    • melissa says

      Maureen- thanks so much for your comment. It’s been a tough month but I appreciate you taking the time to leave me your condolences.

    • melissa says

      KeAnne- Thanks for your kind words and I’m sorry for your loss as well. Yes, there have been lots of cuddling. Big Roo has been really sweet talking about “abuelito” (little grandfather in spanish) and him being in heaven. I know he hurts some too, even if he doesn’t understand it all yet.

  3. says

    Melissa, I’m so sorry for your loss. Your letter to your father is perfect. I’m glad you have such happy memories and pictures you can look back on and think of the good times you had with your daddy.

  4. says

    I am so very sorry for your losses this month Mel. It’s so incredibly hard to lose a parent (I lost my Dad nine years ago).That picture of your dad and your boys is so incredibly precious. The combination of that and your letter really got my tears welling up. Hang onto those precious moments and when your having a hard day you’ll have something lovely to remember. You and your family are in my prayers. Hugs!!
    Alexia @ Babies & Bacon recently posted..We’re Having a Baby: Week 26

    • melissa says

      Thanks for the sweet words, Alexia. I’m sorry about your father as well. Whether it’s been days, months or years, it’s not easy. Hope you had a wonderful holiday!

  5. says

    Incredible letter from a wonderful daughter/mother/wife & friend. So sorry for all you have been through this year, but you are right. He is so much closer than before. My father figure (adopted grandfather) passed away when I was pregnant with Jimmy, I was too pregnant to make the flight from Germany to his funeral but I did make it home several times that year and I would not trade that time with him for anything in the world. Those first few months I spent a lot of time talking with him in the shower. Not sure what it was about the shower, but it helped me get through my grief. I could cry with no one noticing, the tears were washed away and I was warm and comforted. Maybe it could be a comforting place to you as well. Great big hugs my friend, happy belated birthday and a very Merry Christmas to you all.
    stacy recently posted..You are all an inspiration & Cindee wins a prize!!

    • melissa says

      Stacy- Thanks so much for your condolences and your wonderful comment. I’m just now responding but know your words hung with me this week. I’ve hardly gotten any time alone since he passed away so I got to thinking about the shower. It’s a comforting place indeed so thanks SO much for sharing that with me.

    • melissa says

      Sharon- Thank you so much for your sweet words. It’s been a tough time but writing has helped me sort through my thoughts. It was amazing how the words just came to me when I wrote that letter. I’d like to think my Dad had a hand in that.

    • melissa says

      Thanks for your condolences and glad you liked the letter. It’s amazing how the words just came to me when I thought I’d be speechless. Love that.

  6. Jennifer says

    A short but very touching letter. You are right about the picture. Your father looks so happy and satisfied. It is great that you had the chance to take it. I am sorry for the lost. You are right about your dad will be with you all the time.
    Jennifer recently posted..How To Get A Girlfriend

    • melissa says

      Ryan- Thanks so much for your condolences and sweet words. It’s been a rough holiday but I’m pushing forward as best I can for him.

  7. says

    Melissa, my heart goes out to you and your family. I’m so sorry to hear about your loss, but am glad that you seem to be taking it all in stride. Your letter is absolutely beautiful. As you may know, I lost my dad in 2009. From that experience, I can say that one of the best things that helped me get through that time was remembering to putt one foot in front of the other. I would, at times, get so overwhelmed and so sad with his loss that I didn’t want to move forward. I was afraid to move forward in fear that my feet would make my heart forget him. But, with time, I learned that I had to keep living. I had to keep going, to stay strong. I think losing someone you love is tough but in all of it’s tragedy there are opportunities for growth, reflection, and strength. Please let me know if I can be of any help with anything at all. Hugs.
    Jessica recently posted..Road trips with a Newborn and Toddler

  8. says

    I have just come across your blog and not even sure how I found it but I have tears streaming down my face right now. I am sitting about 3 feet away from my mother who has terminal cancer and has moved into my house as she is loosing her battle and become quite frail. I can only imagine what you have been through and how you feel at the loss of your dad. I lost my father 18 years ago from cancer and now I am loosing my mum. It’s heartbreaking and I have no idea what I will do when she is gone. I know that I must hold onto those good times, the times she smiled and the times she was a strong woman tending to her quarter acre garden that was her pride and joy. It’s just so hard to watch my mother deteriorating and makes me wonder what life is all about.

    My mother was given 3-6 months 2.5 years ago, she has hung on as much as possible. Now we take one day at a time, some days are good and some days are bad but she is the most amazing woman never complaining and never wanting to give up.

    Thank you for sharing your story with the world.

    God Bless

    Lee ☺
    lee recently posted..Italian Country Style Interior

    • melissa says

      I’m so glad you came across this post and I’m terribly sorry for what you’re doing through right now with your mother. I’m so glad your mother has hung on as long as she has, given her original diagnosis of just a few months. I know you treasure all of that time.

      My dad has been gone for six months now. I still miss him. Terribly. But I can truly feel his presence some days. And some of the most amazing things have happened to me these last 6 months that I just know he was a part of in some way. You will feel that too. Our loved ones will never be far from us.

      Wishing you comfort during this time.

      Warmly, Melissa

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  1. [...] and over lately as I’ve thought about my life as a whole… and my life this past month. The death of my father punched me in the gut. In fact, it punches me in the gut everyday. I can’t really conceive [...]