Dad,

Today marks nine years since the day you passed away. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about you. Sometimes I cry, scream, even isolate myself to try to make sense of it all, and today started out no different. Everyone says I have to face it head on, in order to cope with your loss, but I just didn’t know how.

And I figured today would be a good day to start learning, so with the help of your granddaughter, that’s what I’m doing now.

She’s six and her eyes are like yours. She loves art, dance, being outside, and she can put a smile on anyone’s face. She worries about others, doing what’s right versus what’s easy, and there’s not a mean bone in her body. Crazy, right? You’d think she’d have my hot head but no, she was blessed with your grace.

I can only imagine how close the two of you would be, and how spoiled she’d be if you were here. You’d give her everything she wants and asks for, like a grandpa should. You’d teach her about fishing, grilling, NASCAR, and wood work. You’d show her that helping others is important and how turning the other cheek is the most powerful thing you can do, and I’m happy to say she already knows that part. Because all the love, kindness, and empathy you held is in her, too.

It’s like she was made with all your best qualities, sewed up into one amazing little girl. One amazing little girl who you’ll never get to meet, but I didn’t want to spend today crying. I was done with passing this day by year after year with depression. I wanted to show your granddaughter everything about you.

So instead of 24 hours of sobs and not eating, I spent today laughing. We ate snacks and looked at pictures of you. I told her about all the cool things you’ve done and the things you would show her if you were with us . . . like how the tides work, how you got your horse trophies, how Dale Earnhardt was your man, and how kindness is above all. We spent today celebrating you, your accomplishments, your big heart, and your love. We talked about how beautiful your life was, how you’re in a better place now, and how even though I know it’s this way for a reason, “I wish he could have met you.” She blurted out a response that swelled my eyes with the happiest tears: “No, I wish I could have met him, I love him”.

She loves you, Dad. I wish she could have met you, but whether she’s met you in person or not doesn’t matter, she loves you nonetheless. And I know you love her. At that moment I knew I was learning to cope.

Today, I learned she doesn’t have to meet you to know you. I learned to let you live on through me, through memories, through photographs, through life lessons. I learned to be happy for you, happy that you lived a great life and you’re no longer suffering, happy that my daughter shares the blood and traits of an amazing man . . . and thankful that she has the best granddaddy as her guardian angel.

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Megan Willis

I am a mom of one, a wife, and a former teacher of 9 years. I'll be graduating in June 2019 with a BA in Child Development. I live a holistic lifestyle that I also teach to my daughter. I enjoy nature, meditation, deep conversations, writing, and good vibes!