Losing a Parent to Cancer: It’s Been 1 Month

Today is a hard day for me to comprehend.  It felt as if the past couple of weeks, I had been mentally preparing myself for January 17th. Now that it’s here, I can’t quite understand what it was specifically, that I was trying to prepare myself for. Because the truth is, I feel an array of emotions that have all been thrown together, mixed around, and its up to me to be able to sort through them and get through this day.  That, I wasn’t prepared for.

I’ve spoken with a few people over the past month who have lost a parent, and with each of them I’ve brought up the anxiety of time passing on. People moving on. It’s such a horrid feeling I’m not even sure I know how to properly transfer it into words.  The first couple of weeks you’re in this bubble – surrounded by people who you love, who love you. You’re even surrounded by people that you haven’t seen in ages who have come out of the woodworks to show their support for you. You hear from people – they check in on you.  And then slowly, that starts to fade. The phone rings less.  The mail stops.  The bubble doesn’t all together pop, but it begins to lose it’s shape.  And you have to remind yourself over and over and over again – this is not because people no longer care – or because people have forgotten the most important person in your life is gone.  It’s because life moves forward, and they have a better grip on how to work with the loss.  As his family, we are still numb.  We haven’t even begun to see the whole thing as real – and yet people are going about their lives as usual.

This isn’t something to be angry about, but it is something to have anxiety about.  The fear of forgetting is a powerful one.  I know with 100% certainty that I will never forget my dad.  While I’m way too young to have lost my father, I’m old enough to have concrete memories of the man I loved so much.  I’m also just like my dad in so many ways.  Writing to him every night helps, too.  It keeps us close. It gives us a reason to speak each and every day, just as we used to.  It makes it feel like he’s just away on a trip.  He’ll come home, and I’ll hand over the journal. Simple as that.  I will never forget my father.  Not one single thing.

Today, I’m spending the day with my mom.  We’re going to go through all of the letters and the cards we’ve received, sift through all of the incredibly kind and generous donations to the American Cancer Society and Bear Necessities Pediatric Cancer Foundation that you all made in his honor, watch videos of him, look at countless amounts of photos, and keep him as close as we possibly can.  Because while today may mark the day that he died.. for me, it marks the last day that I had the opportunity to see him alive. To tell him how much I love him, how I’m so proud to be his daughter.

With that said, I wanted to share something that he had found, and had folded up and tucked away in his journal,  which we came across after he passed. This sums up my dad as a father perfectly. It’s overwhelming as to how lucky I am to have him as my own.

DEAR LITTLE ONE

Recently, your mother and I were searching the internet, and Google returned a list of the most popular searches in the world. Perched at the top was “How to keep him interested.” It startled me. I scanned several of the countless articles about how to be sexy, when to bring him a beer versus a sandwich, and the ways to make him feel smart and superior.

And I got angry.

Little one, it is not, has never been, and will never bee your job to “keep him interested.”  Little one, your only task is to know deeply in your soul – in that unshakable place that isn’t rattled by rejection and loss and ego – that you are worthy of interest (if you can remember that everyone else is worthy of interest also, the battle of your life will be mostly won. But that is a letter for another day.)  If you can trust your worth in this way, you will be attractive in the most important sense of the word: You will attract a boy who is both capable of interest and who wants to spend his one life investing all his interest in you.

Little one, I want to tell you about the boy who doesn’t need to be kept interested, because he knows you are interesting. I don’t care of he puts his elbows on the dinner table – as long as he puts his eyes on the way your nose scrunches when you smile. And then, can’t stop looking. I don’t care of he can’t play a bit of golf with me – as long as he can play with the children you give him and revel in all of the glorious and frustrating ways they are just like you.

I couldn’t care less how he votes – as long as he wakes up every morning and daily elects you to a place of honor in your home and a place of reverence in his heart.  In the end, little one, if you stumble across a man like that and he and I have nothing else in common, we will have the most important thing in common:

You.

Because in the end, little one, the only thing you should have to do to “keep him interested” is to be you.

Your eternally interested guy,
Daddy

the letter via

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1 Comment

  1. January 17, 2014 / 11:08 AM

    beautiful post. love you so much.

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