On the eve of the first Father's Day without my Dad, I decided to write him a letter. Writing helps me process my emotions. My mind feels like an open journal, and anything I write about my Dad, an unending eulogy. I have almost 36 years of memories with my Dad. How can I even attempt to write it all down? I wish I could have shared some of this letter at his funeral. Oh, how I miss him.
"The reality of death has come upon us and a consciousness of the power of God has broken our complacency like a bullet in the side. A sense of the dramatic, of the tragic, of the infinite, has descended upon us, filling us with grief, but even above grief, wonder. Our plans were so beautifully laid out, ready to be carried to action, but with magnificent certainty God laid them aside and said, 'You have forgotten-mine?'" ~Flannery O'Connor Flannery wrote this in her journal about 1943, some two years after her father, Edward O'Connor, died at the age of 45 from Lupus.
Sunday is Father's Day and I miss you so much. It's hard to prepare for a holiday celebrating fathers without you. I visited your grave last Saturday. It felt awful to see your name written on a tombstone. I wasn't prepared for the emotions that flooded over me after leaving the cemetery Saturday. The Bible says that death is our enemy and it is so true.
When I first found out that your heart had stopped beating that warm day last July, it felt like someone snuck up behind me and shot me in the side when I was least expecting it. For weeks after your death it felt like you had physically taken a piece of my heart with you. My heart had an ache to it. I had no desire to eat. It felt like someone had taken my best friend away from me.
It was so hard to see you in the casket at your funeral. So many people came to your funeral to honor you. You would have loved to have been there with all of your friends and family. You always loved going to parties. I didn't realize you had so many friends. I knew that you had a lot of friends because we could never go anywhere without running into someone you knew, but hundreds and hundreds of people came to your funeral. You would have been so proud.
When they took your body away for the last time, I really struggled with saying goodbye. I know that our bodies are only our earthly tents, tabernacles for our souls, but that is how I always knew you, and my body came from your body. I have your thick hair and large, Italian nose. You were one of the most handsome men I knew. One of the reasons why I fell in love with my husband is because his hands reminded me of yours. I always loved your hands. Shortly after your death I read the story in the Bible where the women went to the tomb of Jesus to take care of His body. I could somewhat relate with how that must of felt. To want to take care of your loved one's body. To feel protective over their body. I felt protective over yours.
I now know why you talked about your own parents so often growing up. I talk about you all the time to my boys. I want them to remember you and to know how much I love you. It's neat to see you in my boys. Certain facial features or expressions remind me of you. You live on in your children and grandchildren.
I'm really sorry that you and mom got a divorce. I know how hard that was for you. I really feel like I missed out on so much of your life after the divorce. I'm not sure that people realize the importance of having both a mom and a dad in the home day in and day out and the impact that it has on a child. There is a quiet confidence in a child that comes from the presence of both parents in the home. I think that is why I always wanted you to move in with me. I was subconsciously trying to make up for lost time. Every time I left you I struggled with saying goodbye. I really wanted you to live with me one day. Even though you made it very clear that you would rather be shot than have to be taken care of.
I loved working with you at your restaurant growing up. You were always such a hard worker. I admired your wise business skills. It's hard going into your restaurant now. I loved it when you would open up your restaurant when it was closed and make us dinner. It was a special treat.
The night before I was to move to New York City not knowing a single person or having a place to live, thank you for flying out with me to make sure I was taken care of. I had so much fun that weekend in NYC with you. I can still remember how nervous you were to ride the subway. I'm pretty sure I would feel the same way now if I were to have to ride the subway again.
Thank you for coming to visit me all of the years I lived out of state. I'll never forget the time you showed up at my doorstep in Philly asking if you could borrow a cup of milk. It made my week having you surprise me like that. I miss your surprises and witty personality.
I loved when you would show up at my house unexpectedly. I still catch myself wondering if your car has pulled in the driveway. Thank you for coming over and washing my car or sweeping my floors. It helped so much in the midst of the mundane to have you come over and just be with us.
I loved how you loved meeting your grand babies for the first time. You were always the first to arrive at the hospital after a new baby was born. You were such a proud Grandpa.
I loved pasta night at your house. Thank you for teaching me about our Italian heritage. You made the best tomato sauce and Italian sausage. You also taught me all of the "important" Italian phrases. We still plan on using your idea and naming a future dog Diogi (pronounced D-O-G).
Every time I pass by a lake I think of you. I had such a great childhood growing up on the lake.
Thank you for showing me grace at a time when I needed it most. You will never know how much it meant to me.
I love you Dad. You were a good daddy. Thank you for loving me.