Man, I miss you.
It seems like just yesterday I was getting dressed up in my frilly dress to go on one of our infamous daddy-daughter dates. We would load up in your Chevrolet pickup and listen to 80s rock all the way to the movie theater. You would spend way too much money on popcorn and candy, escort me into the theater, and sit through two hours of singing princesses.
As I grew, so did our bond.
I will never forget my very first basketball game. Knowing you were in the crowd made me feel so safe. I wasn’t afraid of failing, because I knew no matter the outcome, you had my back. You were the greatest cheerleader, and if my memory serves me right, I scored several points that game. I especially loved our time after my games, when you would buy me lunch and tell me how proud you were. Some of the fondest memories I have of you involve gyms and long car rides to games.
Then as I got older things got so complicated.
I had no idea how deeply you were hurting. I could see the pain in your eyes, but I didn’t understand. I was so mad at you for your poor coping skills, and that anger eventually turned into resentment. I couldn’t understand why anyone with a family could self-medicate the way you did. I was so embarrassed of you. I didn’t want people to even know you were my dad. My embarrassment and shame gave root to bitterness. I hated the person you turned into, and I wanted you to suffer for your terrible decisions.
Dad, I’m so sorry.
I understand now how hard this life really is, and I want you to know that I’m sorry you were so far into your depression that you felt like you had no way out. If I had a chance to say one last thing to you, I would tell you that I still don’t 100% understand, but that I love you anyway.
If I’d known you would be taken from me so early in my life, I would have spent those last few years being intentional with my words. I would have hugged your neck more. I would have played as many games of “Horse” as you could stand. I would have spent more time listening. I would have gone on one more daddy/daughter date.
I would simply tell you I love you.
I miss you more than you will ever know, and I am so thankful for the good times we shared.
If there is anything that makes the bitter pain of loss a little easier to manage, it is my firstborn—because Dad, she is just like you. She is one of the most ornery little things I have ever met. She is brilliant and kind. She has your crooked smile and your need for knowledge. Her brain is geared toward scientific thinking and she is constantly seeking out answers, just like you. She is my constant reminder of who you were before the drugs and alcohol consumed you, and it feels like a small part of you is here on Earth with me.
Dad, I miss you but I know this is the way it had to play out. I hope you know I forgive you, and even more importantly, I hope you can forgive me. In the deepest parts of my heart, I have tucked in those sweet memories I have with you. I will never forget the good times, and I promise I will work daily to water the ugly with forgiveness.
Dad, I hope you know how much I love you,
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