Today marks one entire year of living without my Dad.  I decided to write him a letter, and felt compelled to share it with you all.

To those of you struggling with the same thing, just know you are not alone.  As terrible as it is to be in these trenches, and I would not wish it on my worst enemy, it is comforting to know I am not alone. <3

Dear Dad,

To admit that I have spent an entire year without you, is tragic, to say the very least.  Your absence in our lives is unimaginably significant, and my soul is filled with grief to know that this absence is permanent.  A year has passed, but it felt like the blink of an eye.  Nothing could have prepared me for the depth of sorrow I feel when I think of your passing.  It is as if it was yesterday, Mom, Jaime, and I were wishing you safe travels, in our blurry last moments with you.  Those moments, while precious to me, were utterly heart-breaking.  Still though, I am honored to have been in your presence during such a profound change in your being.  And while I am completely beside myself when faced with the reality of loss, angered that you were taken from me, I feel some comfort knowing our voices were the last you heard.

Since your passing, my life has changed immensely.  Many wonderful things have happened.  It has been very difficult for me to enjoy these moments, as they feel so empty without you.  The world became a little less bright, and I haven’t quite laughed as hard.  The accomplishments I have made over the last year would have made you proud, my only regret is that I didn’t make such strides while you were still with me.  In the wake of your passing, I blossomed into a woman.  I believe experiencing such a profound loss, removes any naiveté.  Suddenly the real world, in all its glory and gloom, was in my lap.  It is terrible that only after losing you, my life suddenly clicked into place, but I have tried to see it as a silver lining in this tragedy that befell our family.  It’s hard not to feel guilty, knowing these successes in my life were a direct result of your passing, but I know you wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. 

In the last year I have received a 13% pay increase at my job.  They are very excited at my ability to learn quickly, and have given me additional responsibilities and goals.  They even have me learning about how to read blue prints of engineering drawings.  I think you would have loved to learn about this stuff with me—it is right up your alley.  I have moved out of Mom’s house and into an apartment with Armando, and we have not been late on one bill.  Living with him was a point of contention between Mom and me, but ultimately, things have smoothed out and she is accepting of it.  If you could see my apartment you would laugh, because it looks like Mom possessed me and decorated everything.  Now that I’ve been out on my own, I can finally admit you and Mom were right all along.  I am, inevitably, turning into her clone.  Even Jaime is flabbergasted at my obsession with cleanliness prior to guests coming over.  Unfortunately, my future family will have to deal with the exact psycho cleaning we were subjected to by Mom all those years.  Haha.

I think the most amazing accomplishment I have made this past year is maintaining a relatively healthy life.  I am not 100% confident in my emotional stability, but the inner strength that has gotten me through the last 12 months can best be described as extraordinary.  Each second that passes without you, is still heart-breaking, but I have managed to keep moving forward.  I’m not sure what force is keeping me afloat, but I have a likely feeling it is you, within me.  Thank you for that blessing.

Despite all of these positives, I still feel a bit lost.  While my successes provide me some distraction, my spirit remains broken.  I have had some negative side effects, expectedly, since your passing.  In writing this to you it is my plea that you help me overcome these new faults.  My anxiety has shot through the roof, something that I had never experienced prior to your passing.  I feel constantly on edge, that I will lose yet another loved one, and spiral back to where your departure left me.  It makes it difficult to keep people close to my heart, because I am so consumed with worry that I will lose them too.  Even worse yet, is that my mind is capable of imagining hypothetical scenarios in which I would lose another loved one.  These worries and thoughts haunt me, day in and day out.  I believe that our sudden loss shocked me into a state of perpetual fear.  The pain was so extensive, the thought of going through it again is completely abhorrent.  To suffer another loss would likely break me.  Then again, I waiver on that notion, because I feel so proud of myself for how I have managed to cope with your loss.  

This fear was compounded by the fact that Mom had an accident at work a couple months ago, which was quite scary for both Jaime and me to endure.  As she pulled through without any significant damage, I know you had a hand in protecting her.  However, it could have been much, much worse.  She fainted, and hit her head so hard on the ground it fractured her skull.  She had to spend a week in the hospital, and was in the exact same ICU as where we spent our last moments together.  That was heart-breaking.  From the depths of my soul, thank you for looking out for her that day.  Had she hit her head a little lower, I have a strong feeling that Jaime and I would have been dealing with yet another tragedy.  Please continue to look out for Mom.  As you know, she is the strongest woman on the face of the Earth.  Her ability to withstand horrendously terrible events is awe inspiring.  Without her, I would not be where I am today.

The back and forth of my emotions has taken the biggest toll on me.  The stress of losing you is being physically manifested in the form of a rash on my head.  It sounds totally ridiculous to be including that in my letter to you, but it has begun affecting my day to day life, so I feel that warrants it some mention.  I have a doctor’s appointment with a psychiatrist next week, and maybe she will be able to provide some insight into why this has happened.  It is a big step to talk about this terrible event in my life with someone who does not know you.  I don’t feel like words can adequately express the man you were, and they most definitely cannot express what you meant to me.  I want to be able to share with everyone the amazing person you were, but I don’t feel any words could do you justice. 

My hopes for the future were crushed when you left this world.  It is a harsh reality to know that my Dad, the man who comforted me in tough times, cooked for me when I was hungry, taught me how to drive, advised me though break ups, painted my nails, and loved me every minute of my life, won’t be there for the most important things I have yet to accomplish.  You won’t be able to walk me down the aisle, and give me away to the man that loves me second most behind you.  You won’t ever meet my children, or hold them, or shower them with kisses, and spoil them rotten.  I know you would have been an amazing father-in-law, and grandpa, and my future husband, and children, have been cheated out of meeting someone so thoroughly amazing.  This is something that saddens me the most.

One year has passed, and it perfectly defines the term bitter-sweet.  On one hand I am so grateful for the lessons I have learned, that have made me a far better person than who I was before.  I am also grateful you were rid of your failing, pained body, and are free from hurt and suffering.  On the other hand, not being able to give you a hug, or solicit your advice, laugh with you, and cry with you, is tragic.  My hope is that you continue to watch over me and guide me through this long life-time without you.  Keep guiding me in the direction of being a better person, and visiting me in my dreams.  I miss you, from the bottom of my heart I miss you so dearly. 

Until we meet again, Your loving daughter,

Courtney

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Replies to This Discussion

Dear Courtney,

You are a very loving, successful & grateful daughter. Please take comfort in that. Growing up, You were loved by your parents & they taught you how to give love in return. That is the biggest & most important life lesson any parent can give to their child. My heart breaks for you, at the loss of your wonderful Father. That love will never die, as you honor him by sharing that love with your fiance' and your future children. You will see your Father in those children; their little faces, their laughter, the way they'll look at you with admiration, love & pride. You'll find yourself repeating your Father's stern words while you teach them right from wrong. You will also pass along that deep, unwavering love that he gave to you. He will be with you, always, even long after you have learned to live your life without his physical being. My personal belief is that his spirit or energy lives on inside of you & that we keep our loved ones "alive" through memories, lessons, stories of fun times that you shared, sad times when his shoulders held you up with comfort. As time goes on, it doesn't fade, nor does it get any easier. But, we learn to live with the loss, knowing that no one else will ever fill the void. You have a big heart, Courtney, & it has plenty of space to let others live there too. I'm very sorry about your Mother's injury. I, myself, just since January fell 3 times & hit my head hard with each fall. I smashed my face terribly in 2 of the falls & I looked like a loser of a cage fight. I'm also 69 years old. Your Mom must have been suffering the deepest kind of grief & loneliness with serious injuries so soon after losing her husband. Just the touch of the hand between lovers, is more healing than any therapy could do. Was your Father ill for some time or was he stricken suddenly? I ask because I lost my own Mother last October after years of seeing her deteriorate slowly & cruelly with Dementia. At the age of 87, she was diagnosed with breast cancer too. She had to have a radical Mastectomy & by the end of the first day, she didn't remember it. That is the only blessing that Dementia provides. Along with all good memories, the bad ones were gone too. I am in the process of finding new homes for all of her possessions & clothing. I just wasn't ready to give away the last tangibles. May 9th is her birthday & I have the honor of spreading her ashes in one of the most beautiful places in the Great Smokey Mountains; a place she loved so much. We are stronger people than we give ourselves credit for. You will get through this & life does go on, if you let it. Again, I'm so sorry you are suffering with this loss. You will be in my prayers from now on. God bless you & your family. BTW, your letter to your Father was not only beautiful but beautifully written!

Mary

I am definitely in the same position. I just lost my dad and its been now going on 2 years with no closure. I was denied my right to pay my last respects to my own father over family greed. I don't wish this on anyone but losing your father or any parent is so heartbreaking.

It truly, truly is.  I think the most difficult part for me right now is the inability to talk with him and get his advice.  For the entirety of my life, he was always my go-to person, who would answer the phone day or night, rain or shine, no matter what, without fail.  Now that I am going through my own health crisis, the only thing I want to do after each doctor's appointment is call him.  It's utterly heart breaking that I have to go a lifetime without hearing his wisdom and kind words of support.  Though it has been a year, it feels like it's been two minutes.  The pain hasn't gotten better, but if anything, worse.  It is as if the shock of the entire situation has prevented me from coping, and now that it has been a year, my heart is only now grasping the concept of no longer having him present in my life (physically).  :(  

Jenn B said:

I am definitely in the same position. I just lost my dad and its been now going on 2 years with no closure. I was denied my right to pay my last respects to my own father over family greed. I don't wish this on anyone but losing your father or any parent is so heartbreaking.

I LOST MY WONDERFUL DAD 12/10/14 & IT WAS UNEXPECTED ALTHOUGH WE HAD A GOOD RELATIONSHIP I FEEL GUILT IN SO MANY ASPECTS!! I TALKED TO HIM NIGHT BEFORE WHY DIDN'T I CALL 911 WHY DID I LISTEN TO HIS GIRLFRIEND THAT HE WAS FINE THAT SHE WOULD TAKE CARE OF HIM MY HEART ACHES EVERY DAY!! HE WAS MY BEST FRIEND I FIND MYSELF PICKING UP PHONE TO CALL HIM IT IS ONE OF THE MOST PAINFUL THINGS I'VE HAD TO EXPERIENCE FEELING LOST AND VERY SAD!!

Such a touching letter and from the heart.   Knowing that you believe that he is watching is a comfort.  Proud of you.  

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