Thursday, April 4, 2013

Dear Dad, Thank You.

Dad, me, Bro, and Mom, August 2012
 My family is like many others. We're quirky and funny. We laugh together, debate together, and support each other no matter what. In so many ways, we're closer than many of scientifically related families I know.

My father's illness has brought all of the best qualities of our family to light. We found a way to laugh, when an expiration date lingered in the room. We found the upside in every moment we could. Many of the moments of this past week have been filled with heart-breaking vulnerability and honesty that I could never put it into word.
My Sailor, Dad, Me, Bro, and Mom August 2012
 They say that it's in times of trial that we learn what we're made of and who we truly are.  That couldn't have been more true than banding together during this past week. Each of us have been completely present for one another.   And I know Dad would be proud of that. Because we are a family built on the strongest bonds of love - and we owe it to Dad.

On April 1st, before going to bed, I went into my father and kissed him on the head and whispered that I loved him.

This time, I wasn't crying. I was just saying goodnight to my Dad, knowing I was set to leave on a plane the next day and may not see him again. He didn't wake up from his easy sleep, but he didn't need to. I knew on some level, he heard me.

On April 2nd,  my mom woke up at 5am and said Dad has passed. I followed her into his bedroom, and hugged her tightly.

I called my brother and said that "It's over. Dad's gone."

We're still feeling our way through all of this. I can't honestly document all of the emotions involved with losing a parent too soon. (Dad was going to be 68 this year.)  We got 1/2 a year more than we expected. That included a Christmas together. I really am grateful for all of those stolen moments and the time together.

Part of me is irrationally angry. Not at Dad, but at others who have the oppurtunity to enjoy their lives and their partner's longer. It's not their fault that their life's journey's didn't include this. But that's why it's 'irrational' anger.

Part of me just misses him. Though this impacts my mom more than any of us, Dad's shoes will never be filled. They never need to be. He was my Dad - and that's an irreplaceable title.

Part of me is very sad on the things Dad will miss. Mom's birthday is in less than 2 weeks. He won't meet his grandkids. He won't get to take Mom on that last trip to Ireland. He won't see 42 years married to the love of his life.

All normal parts of grieving. It seems like a nightly ritual comes from soaking My Sailor's shirt with tears, now that he's here. You see, Dad waited until My Sailor got back and was able to get to me.

Being married to my best friend, this hits me particularly hard too. My heart goes out to my Mom - who has faced this with as much grace and courage as Dad has. Now, she's embarking on a new (unwanted) adventure - life without her partner. Today, she went to a few places she and Dad used to frequent. That took serious courage. I couldn't be more proud of her. She's proving every day that, it's hard, but quitting is not an option. We all carry a little piece of his legacy.

 He wasn't in any pain. He had visited with family and friends the week prior, handled each visit with grace, courage, and often more composure than the visitors had.
I could recount and enumerate all the feelings and moments of the past two days, but instead I only have these words left:

Thank you, Dad.
Thank you for making me laugh and letting me cry.
Thank you for showing me that gentleness and strength go hand-in-hand.
Thank you for playing "Space Ship" with me as a kid to make me giggle.
Thank you for singing "Tomorrow" from Annie with me nearly every morning I can remember when I was 5.
Thank you for helping me through my mistakes.
Thank you for sharing with me your strong spirit.
Thank you for every hug.
Thank you for every time you 'got my nose'.
Thank you for claiming me and never seeing me as anything less than your daughter.
Thank you for every smile, and ever rare stern look.
Thank you for making my childhood magical.
Thank you for teaching me to dream big.
Thank you for instilling a love of travel and adventure in me.
Thank you for teaching me faith by being a living example.
Thank you for always being the 'distinguished' man in the room, since you were 6'4" with full white hair ever since I can remember.
Thank you for exposing me to the arts, knowing I needed to find a way to express myself as words so often failed me.
Thank you for teaching me the value of listening carefully and speaking with meaning.
Thank you for providing for me, and protecting me, even when I didn't realize it.
Thank you for loving Mom and teaching me the power of friendship and love through your living example.
Thank you for proving that men being faithful loving husbands and good fathers never goes out of style.
Thank you for a million little things I'll never be able to actively recall, but will never be able to forget.
Thank you for showing me what a real man is.

Thank you, Dad... for everything.

I Won The Parent Lottery.


  1. A beautiful post for a beautiful man. I am so sorry to read of your dad's passing. From your words, it is very clear how much love exists between you and your dad and how much he means to your family. Thinking of you during such a difficult time. xo Carly

    1. Thank you so much for your support Carly. As we strive to build our own families (and ourselves) the people that help us become who we are become even more valuable. Hug 'em while ya can. ;)

  2. Jay - you truly are my sister. My Dad was 68 when he went to live in Heaven. His horrible disease was diabetes - makes you want to shake diseases (cancer, diabetes) and say why have you taken this person from me, way too soon? I also have wonderful memories to hold onto - as you do. Memories of your Father that helped turn you into the person you are today. Hold tight to your memories. Talk about him, blog about him. He was (and is) an important part of your life.