I should have said I love you . . . well, the wonderful thing is, they already knew that.  

There are endless things we wish we would have said to our loved ones before they passed on. You could spend the rest of your life pondering over all the words left unsaid, the conversations unfinished, and questions unanswered. We all wish we would have told our loved ones how much they meant to us one final time.

Even so, not only do they already know this to be true but you still can tell them every last word you’ve ever wished to say.

On the night before Father’s Day, June 2018, I had come home from one of the best days I had in a while. A day well spent with friends, filled with laughter and new memories.

This day quickly became the worst I had ever experienced in all my 18 years.

I vividly remember sitting on my bed, admiring the sun’s golden rays as they snuck through the cracks in my blinds. I took in the moment, appreciating the beauty of such a simple thing when I heard the faint sound of a voice coming from down the hall.

My parent’s room was dark, quiet, cold. All I heard as I opened the door was, “Get Mom.” The tone of his voice was so unfamiliar, weak, and afraid.  

“Dad, what’s wrong?” I asked cautiously.

“Just get Mom.”

I saw my mother’s car backing out of the driveway as I sprinted down the stairs to stop her. I dialed her number as quickly as I possibly could, running out into the street faster than my legs could carry me. My breathing hitched at what felt like my heart pounding in my throat.

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She was upstairs in their room within one minute.

Her screams haunt me to this day.

I heard it, I watched itall of itand in the end, I saw him gone. An image that flooded my mind every time I closed my eyes for weeks after his passing.  

For a while, I felt like all I was left with were the memories of that night, my worst nightmare becoming the most real thing I had ever experienced, my new reality.

I spent countless nights lying in bed, replaying the memory over and over, wishing I had just said I love you before running to get help.

So how did I move on? How do any of us move on?

In the three years since my father’s passing, I have learned and matured more than I had in the 18 years leading up to his death.

One of the biggest lessons I have come to learn is the importance of holding on to the love, not the loss.

Remembering all of our most beautiful, lighthearted, irreplaceable memories together—this alone reminds me I would not give up the 18 years I had with my father for a lifetime with anyone else.

Whether your time with a loved one was beautifully enduring or tragically short-lived, the love you shared is everlasting.

He knows I love him. He always has. He always will. 

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Thinking of his final moments brings me nothing but heartbreak and pain, but remembering our happiest times together reminds me of the bond we shared.

I don’t need to be sad when I think of all the things I didn’t say. Because although I didn’t get to tell my father I loved him as he took his final breath, he already knew.

Never allow yourself to forget that although their physical presence is not with you, their loving spirit follows you, guides you, and remains beside you wherever life may take you. You can still tell your loved ones how much they mean to you. Even though you cannot see them, they are with you and they are listening. 

So, keep on telling them how much you loved them, how much you will continue loving them, and that you miss them more than words can express. Tell them about your day, the good and the bad. Allow yourself to smile and feel the joy of the memories once lived until you are together again.

That’s the special thing about memories, they never really leave you. Your angels don’t either.

Sydney Kane

Sydney is a 21-year-old college student from New York studying English at St. Joseph's College. She is passionate about literature and dreams of becoming a full-time writer. Her ultimate goal is to one day write a novel of her own.