I find it helpful to write to work through various emotions and thoughts. The what-ifs have haunted me for years. As I was thinking about my biological father (in Heaven) and his upcoming March birthday, I wanted to process my thoughts by writing him a letter. I felt there was much left unsaid and many actions held back.
If I could say something to my dad, this is what I would say.
It’s hard to believe it’s been over 13 years since you left this earth. I know you are dancing around in Heaven—no longer confined and restrained by the horrid disease that took you.
That phone call as a young 18-year-old preparing for graduation felt like a deer in headlights, with the reality of losing you not really sinking in.
Your battle with Huntington’s disease is one I will never forget—so many memories etched into my mind forever. Most memories were as a young child. I remember the way bystanders treated you. The laughs. The jokes. The mockery. The harsh reality that people are so quick to judge a book by its cover without knowing the pain, suffering, and agony you were going through. The reality that you were dying and losing control—mentally and physically. The reality that you had lost so much in such horrible ways.
So many things left unsaid.
As a child and a teenager, I didn’t understand.
I couldn’t face the reality of what was happening to you.
I spent many sleepless nights, tossing and turning, wishing I could turn back time.
I spent many sleepless nights wondering if I’d face the same reality.
After receiving my negative test result, I was thankful. So incredibly grateful. But also a little angry. Wondering why you couldn’t have been so fortunate. To be here to see your children grow up. To see me marry the man of my dreams. To meet your grandchildren. To see who you really were if you weren’t sick.
I wish I could have been there and held your hand as your last breath exited your weary body.
I wish I wouldn’t have been so afraid to face you amidst your pain and anguish.
I wish I would’ve known the void that would fill my heart.
I’m so thankful you aren’t in pain anymore, but I sure wish I could look deep into your eyes and thank you for showing me what a warrior looked like.
You kept fighting.
You uttered the words “I love you” until the disease took your ability to speak.
You mustered up all the strength you had to say those powerful three words. And I know you meant them.
You tried to show how much you cared amidst the disease changing you.
Thank you for showing me what it means to keep moving even when the world laughs and misunderstands.
Thank you for teaching me we should never judge a book by its cover. We do not know the agony and pain someone else is enduring.
Forever your little bambino.
We aren’t guaranteed tomorrow and must make the most of today.
How do you process grief?
Write a letter.
Purchase a grief journal.
Know it’s OK to keep their memory alive.
Instead of living feeling trampled on by regrets from the past, go out and make today count.
Be there for your children.
Restore the communication in your marriage.
Say “I love you” more.
Be there for the sick loved one.
Check on the new mom who is struggling with postpartum depression.
Do not judge a book by its cover—try instead to understand the person’s story.