It’s been a long time since I’ve written to you. I miss doing that.
We shared so many big and little things in our frequent emails and phone calls. Our conversations shrank the distance and connected us every day. Now that you’re gone from this earthly plane, I miss those exchanges dearly. Our subjects covered pretty much everything, because you held a non-judgmental space for me, always.
You once told me that sharing the parts of my life that were hardest to disclose, my personal hurdles and heartaches, was a precious gift to you. When I finally got the courage to speak to you about my heaviest burdens and struggles, you welcomed that disclosure with a safe and accepting embrace. “It’s all part of life,” you assured me, and you were there for me through each step forward. I do my best to be this kind of nonjudgmental parent to my own children, and I tell them I learned that lesson from you.
When I was a child, you and I worked in the garden, mowed the lawn and washed the car, side-by-side. I helped you to build and repair things. As we worked, you sprinkled in plenty of silliness and wisdom, and I learned how fun and rewarding it can be to share the tasks that need doing.
As you became elderly and nearly blind, and then learned you had cancer, your example continued to teach me valuable lessons. You met the unanticipated and unsavory tasks, through each new challenge that unfolded, with courage, grace and good humor. When you felt sad or angry, you expressed those emotions too, sharing the full spectrum of your humanity. “It’s all part of life,” was a centering mantra.
I have some new life burdens now, Daddy. I know that you know what I’m facing. Some days my challenges feel very heavy to bear and the unknowns are downright scary. As I coach myself to open my head to my heart, I feel you with me, helping me carry that load. Now it’s my turn to courageously share the bumpy road of my journey and to remember that doing so is a gift to my loved ones.
It was a privilege for me to be with you in the days, weeks and months before you died. Sharing your final moments on Earth was a gift I will forever treasure. You were courageous. Tender. Generous. Honest. Grateful. You inspired me to open my heart and embrace your final chapter as a precious and sacred time.
Wherever I may be on my life’s path, whatever obstacles I face, I would like to emulate your example of peace, acceptance and generous love. Thank you for being with me and showing me how. You blessed me then, and you bless me now.
Happy Father’s Day, Daddy. I love you.