Why, Sometimes, Does It Feel Like Yesterday?

Dear Dad,

I’ve been thinking about this letter for some time now. And, honestly, even as I type these first few words, I’m not exactly sure what I’m going to say.

I mean, what are the perfect words to ‘celebrate’ someone’s anniversary? Because, Dad, as if you don’t know, today is the 10th anniversary of your death.

So much has been going on, Dad. I’ve really struggled during the past few months. More than that, actually. And, well, I’m finally at a point where I feel like I’m making progress — and then this day happens. And this is where I’m torn. The old me says this is a sad day and it should be sad and that’s just the way it is.

Dad, the new me — well, the new me says I should be celebrating all of the good and all of the happy that is between us as a way to honor you on this day.

Can’t I do both? Can’t I be sad and remember happy things at the same time? That, to me, seems like the only solution right now, Dad.

First of all, there’s just something about 10. It’s like a big number just hanging out there to remind me vividly that, yes, you, in fact, have been dead for a while. I don’t particularly like any aspect of that — let alone having some number become an authority on something. And, really, that’s what 10 is right now.

It really doesn’t matter if I hate 10. I should, actually, hate all the numbers, Dad. Because any number associated with you means you’re gone. And, well, that’s the part I’m still not a big fan of. You know. The part where you are gone. To some extent, I have finally accepted it and dealt with it. But, in another sense, not so much. Or, well, maybe the not so much is other stuff in our relationship. That I’ve learned to be OK with the dying part, but it’s the other stuff that I’m not so excited about.

In terms of that dying part, the biggest thing that still irks me is that I wasn’t there, Dad. You’ve heard me talk about this before. I’m sure you’re sick of it. Heck, in a way I am. I know now what I would have said to you. First, I would have been mad at you — mad for leaving me, for leaving us. But, I also would have thanked you, Dad. For all that you did for me. And for us. For teaching me — only in your way. So subtle, yet so obvious. For trusting me. For giving me freedom to learn — and to fail.

I would have told you that I will never forget certain things about you, and about us. Countless hours at the little league field — so many memories there. Helping you out at the pool. Picking out a Christmas tree. Setting up the manger. Playing games on the TV room floor. Watching the Celtics. Getting a pizza at Famous. Making fun of your sport coats. Sharing laughs. Lengthy ‘discussions.’ Super cookies. Card tricks.

See, Dad, I would have told you those things because they, for the most part, are my holdover. It’s what I remember about you — about us. Simple stuff that nobody else will probably understand. And, well, honestly, I like it better that way. Nobody has to understand. Nobody except us.

I still think about the letter you were going to write. The nurse said you had plans to write each of us a letter. I think about what you’d say all the time — hoping that you share some of the same memories I do. That those little things stick with you like they stick with me.

And then I hope, Dad, that you would have said you were proud of me. It’s such a simple thing. And, you know, even though we aren’t a big affectionate family — in either words or actions — it almost wouldn’t matter for you to say that you loved me. I know you do. I can feel it to this day.

But, honestly, I don’t recall you ever saying you were proud. Maybe you did and it didn’t mean that much to me then. But, for some reason, this is the big one. I’m pretty sure I know the answer. But I don’t want to know it that way. I want you to give me some sort of sign that I know you are proud.

I won’t bore you with all the other details, Dad. I know you’re watching. I know you see Aidan and Erin and how much they’ve grown and discovered. I know you watched over Lynn last week with her surgery. I know you are there. You and Tim, both. Always there, always connected. The tricky part is just figuring out how. I haven’t been very good at that. But I will get better.

So, Dad, today, I expect my thoughts to be all over the map. I expect to be sad. I expect to smile in a way that nobody else will understand. I expect to laugh at some point. And, honestly, well, I expect to cry.

I’m sorry, Dad, that this letter has been all over the place. It’s a great representation of my relatively recent thought process. I know I’ve written more eloquently in the past about certain things. And that’s fine. That’s what was important to me then. This is what’s important to me now.

And the other thing that’s important to me now — is for you, Dad, to know that I love you. But, again, you know that. We don’t talk about it. We don’t show it. We just know it.

The other part? Is that I’m proud of you, Dad. Couldn’t be prouder. Not for just the way you taught me. For the way you helped others. For everything about you.

Please know, too, that I’m trying. I truly am. But it still sucks. You’re not here. And I miss you.

Every day.



4 Comments on “Why, Sometimes, Does It Feel Like Yesterday?”

  1. steffi says:

    Wow. I’m speechless. What a beautiful letter.

  2. Shannon says:

    Mike this is a beautiful letter, one that I can certainly relate to since my Dad passed away only four months ago. I share some of your feelings, Hang in there today. Your Dad’s love will help pull you through.

  3. Tina says:

    Well said. I bet he wishes you could hear him shouting down to you how proud he is.

  4. MKinane says:

    Damn. Nice letter, Mike. As someone who last fall “celebrated” 30 years since his father passed, I can tell you some of what you experience may not change much. The memories of what you had, though, get better and better.

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