That Damn Death Thing Again

Dear Dad,

It’s such a cliche, but I’d love to start this letter like someone writing a postcard:

Wish you were here.

Today marks eight years since you’ve been here. And that sucks. It really, really sucks. Each year I think it’s going to get a little easier. It doesn’t. In fact, this year, it’s a little harder. You probably like the company, but let’s be honest, we’re not real happy about Tim being there with you. Gramma, OK, we kind of expected that, but not Tim. And certainly not now.

But, at the same point, you’ve got each other there, “in heaven” as Aidan would say. And he does say it, Dad. Every night at prayers, he talks about Papa O, Uncle Tim and Great Mimi O looking down on us from heaven. And, we still light candles at church every week. Do you hear him when he says, “we pray for you Papa O”? I hope you do.

I told him tonight at prayers that we had to say an extra prayer for you. He had one question. “What number is Papa O, dad?” He wanted to know how old you are. I told him. And he seemed happy.

You’d love him, Dad. I know you would. To see his mind work. I swear you can see him working things out, figuring them out. It’s such a great thing to say. And he’s having trouble making the ‘s’ sound, and a lot of times I think about how you would be able to help him sound it out and work it out. And I think about how you would have to hold back the laughter at some of the things he says and does. At his recall. Just amazing what he retains.

I think of you a lot, Dad, when he’s frustrating us beyond belief. Because, he is just 3.5. I think of how you never raised your voice. And if I feel myself doing it, you pop into my head almost instantly. Or I think about you when I try to give him my look. I can tell you that it certainly isn’t working on him (yet) like your look worked on me.

And, Dad, your new grand-daughter, Erin, would melt your heart. First, she was such a relief to us at such a horrible time, but you know that, don’t you? But, gosh, Dad, her smile is infectious. All she does is giggle and smile. Giggle and smile. She’s almost eight months now, Dad, and becoming such a little person. You’d love to play peek-a-boo with her. I know you would. She’s such a little girl, even now. But, my goodness, she’s this close to crawling. And then things are going to change around our house, that’s for sure.

I wish you could meet her. I wish you could hold her. I wish you could see how much happiness she’s brought to us. She really is our little angel.

Dad, we worry about Mom. She’s given us a couple of scares this year, most recently around Christmas. You’d be amazed though, she actually admitted that she was probably feeling the stress. Can you believe it? I mean, I know where I get my stubborn side from. She always says it’s from you, but I know a lot of it is from her. She held up incredibly well during Tim’s passing, but I think it’s catching up. Not just to her, but all of us. We try to get her to cut back on things, but you know how hard that can be.

The good news, though, is that Lynn, John and Lauren moved into the house, so now Mom is in the addition. It works out great for everyone, but that was stressful, too. And so was Gramma’s last year. But you could probably guess that. It was just a lot, Dad. More than anyone should have to go through.

I should write more. I’m sorry I don’t. It’s not easy. It hasn’t been for eight years. Not that I’m saying it’s easy on you, because I know that’s not true either. Oh, Dad, I don’t know what I’m saying. That’s the hardest part with this. It’s like I know today is coming. I just get in this funk. I look at the calendar and I’m like, oh yeah.

I want you to see everything going on. I want you to meet Aidan and Erin so much. Tim and Gramma can tell you about Aidan. I know they got a kick out of him. And Gramma was thrilled that Erin’s middle name is Margaret. That brought such a smile to her face.

Every day, Dad. I think about you every day. I miss you ever day. And in some strange way, it almost makes me feel like I’m closer to you. But at times I still get upset. Upset that you’re gone. Upset that I wasn’t there.

Damn it, Dad. I miss you.



27 Comments on “That Damn Death Thing Again”

  1. Stormy says:

    Wow. Very eloquent, heartwarming (& wrenching) post. I didn’t think I’d be laying in bed crying when I went to check the Google Reader one last time before bed. Yet here I am. 😦

  2. Sara says:

    It’s always nice to start the morning with a fresh set of tears, right?

    I won’t pretend to know how you feel. I have a number of friends in their twenties that have lost parents and think of you all and how I honestly cannot imagine what that would feel like. How life would continue.

    I have to say I think your feelings are normal (I heard myself talking to my grandma in a lot of it), and it’s great that you allow them to surface as you do. And it’s absolutely adorable and honorable that Aidan says a prayer for Papa O. I’m sure he hears it and appreciates it.

  3. Stephanie says:

    I’m sitting here at work, tears literally welling up in my eyes.

    Lovely post. I can’t imagine losing a parent. You’re a strong guy, though, and Aidan and Erin are lucky to have a dad like you!

  4. Barb says:

    what a moving post….you are a great son, husband and dad- and it seems you learned from the best!

  5. Melissa says:

    I think I can feel (read) your pain in what you wrote, and it hurts. I don’t know personally what it feels like and I’m scared of that day. Honor your dad by being the best dad you can be, and taking care of yourself so you can be around to enjoy your grandchildren.

  6. Molly says:

    Beautiful, Mike. Prayers for your Dad today.

  7. Jennie says:

    Wow. This was so powerful. Thank you for being so vulnerable.

  8. Clink says:

    It should come as no surprise that I am crying real, actual, big, fat tears at my desk.

    I echo what everyone else has said: beautiful, powerful and very, very touching.

  9. Pessimistic Redhead says:

    Thanks for sharing this. It made me cry and sad, but feeling is a good thing. Your dad would be very proud of you and your family.

  10. JenBun says:

    You are in our thoughts, and love love love is all around!

  11. pie says:

    aaaand I’m crying at my desk. Aiden praying for your dad at church every week killed me dead.

    I too echo what everyone else is saying so beautiful, and touching.

  12. Chelle says:

    Dear Papa O,
    You don’t know me. I work with your son. Even though we’ve known each other for only a few years, I would say Mike is a rare find. You’d be proud of him… The way he gets things done. Takes care of those around him. He’s funny, too. And talks about his kids with a sparkle in his eye. A sparkle that says he’s a good daddy.

    But you know these things already. You’ve been watching him and helping him along the way. So just wanted to say thanks. You gave us a great man.

  13. erin says:

    I waited to read your post until I got home because I wanted to avoid the crying at work thing so many other readers encountered.

    This was a beautiful post – so heartfelt and so sincere and so something that I might not have put on my own blog. I can’t imagine what it’s like to lose a parent, but this post makes me understand a little bit more of just how much of a loss it will be.

  14. JC says:

    In sadness, there are moments of joy to appreciate and love what life has to offer.

    Mom’s stress – glad she admitted it. That’s in the book – the road less traveled – ‘life is difficult.’

    Very good Mike O.

  15. Anna says:

    Oh Mike, Henry is looking at me saying, “hurt? hurt?”
    Because I’m crying.

    You nailed it on the head. The loss, the grief, the dissapointment, the anger, the longing. Having kids now makes it harder, I think not easier.

    But we’re thinking of you and Papa O today, if that helps.

  16. Anna says:

    p.s. I know I’m a day late on that comment, but the sentiment remains the same.

  17. feefifoto says:

    What a beautiful, heartfelt piece of writing. Please print a copy to put in your kids’ baby books so they can read and appreciate it when they’re older.

    I tell my kids all the time about how much their great-grandparents would have doted on them. It’s not the same as having them around, but I think my kids do have a sense of knowing the people for whom they were named. You’re doing the right thing. What a great dad!

  18. Fritz says:

    your in my thoughts and prayers!! take care!

  19. notsojenny says:

    as sad as it is that it never gets easier, it’s also kinda’ comforting. i’m coming up on a year without my dad and while i don’t have children yet i still feel the same way you do. i wish my dad would be able to meet them, i wish they could know him. i’ll always be jealous that my sister’s girls at least got to be held by him. he knew they existed.

    so my thoughts go out to you, and your children. i get it.

  20. distracted spunk says:

    For a first post to read, that was one hell of a post. It was beautiful – and I love the smallest sentiments you shared. I’m sorry for your loss. I’m excited for your future with your children.

  21. penelope23 says:

    I stumbled on your blog through Molly’s. I am sitting in a senior management meeting and I am fighting back tears. Your post was so touching.

    I hope it gets easier for you, but death is never easy. I sure your dad would be incredibly happy for you. And proud of the person you have become.

  22. somechick84 says:

    What a beautiful letter 🙂

  23. FOL says:

    Hey, thank you for sharing. You put my feelings exactly into words. I’m in my thirties, and my dad passed away suddenly, 2 months ago. I think of him every day too. It breaks my heart that I won’t ever talk to him again.

    Someone told me of a Hebrew saying – “Mourn not that he is gone, but be thankful that he was”

  24. cdp says:

    I only came by to say Go Pats, and found this incredibly moving post. Much love being sent your way.

    And ps, GO PATS.

  25. Ford Cawlins says:

    Oh Mike. I just went through twenty years of my dad’s death. You capture (better than I could) how I feel. He never met Diane (my wife) or my wonderful son (Charles Tucker) or my brother’s wife (Gloria) and their blessed son (Sam) and it makes me so sad. But, my father was not a “:get sad about what could have been” guy. He was (in his own way) a “celebrate what you have guy”…so let’s celebrate what we have. What is good. What is good that we have together. Because that is what my dad ( and I presume your dad) would have wanted. That is how we honor our fathers. We do what we know is right when no one is looking. Thanks for your moving post — I could have never expressed it as eloquently as you did. kenny

  26. carrie121870 says:

    I read this now on the 10th anniversary of my father’s death. To say that I know what you are feeling, I can and I do. I wrote this today….

    Its that little piece of emptiness that we tuck away, it peeks out when there is a great moment (an ‘I wish you could see this’ moment) and in the days prior to “that day”, a funk … that’s one way to describe it. But you can’t hide it, especailly on that day… that day keeps us connected, as hard as it is. Your words are amazing, moving…

    They watch us, they see us, their children and grandchildren and they smile! Your father is very proud.

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