I began the process of writing to my dad each day the moment that he passed away. It became a way for me to communicate with him and to make sure we stayed as close as we were when he was alive. It filled my head and heart with hope that while the time spread between the day I lost him, our connection wouldn’t. A couple of weeks ago while hanging out with one of my close friends, Jamie, I confessed to her that the act of physically writing to him every day almost 3 months later had felt at times too much. I found myself feeling anxious if midnight was approaching and I hadn’t yet had a moment to sit down with my notebook and fill him in on my day. I would feel guilty, and then I would cry. Quite frankly, I wouldn’t have the energy to hold a pen and tell him over and over again how sorry I was that I didn’t check in that day. It didn’t mean anything. I didn’t love him any less. It’s just that sometimes the heart is so heavy, words can’t fill a page. Does that make sense?
That’s when Jamie asked me a question:
“What reminds you of him?”
Instantly my head was flooded with so many memories. My dad was a creature of habit. He loved his routines, and while some may have called him predictable in some ways, I always found him to be the most comforting person on Earth. In the early mornings, I knew exactly when he would be in his chair under his heat blanket either watching the news or most likely reading a book. In the afternoon, pending the weather was nice and he was feeling okay, he would be outside doing yard work. In the evenings, he would be wherever my mom was; in the kitchen, in the family room, or out in the gazebo. If he was to ever leave to go to the store – it was never a text or a phone call, he would always leave a handwritten personal note – always ending with “love you so” and his signature smiley face with a mustache to boot. So many things I love and remember about him, but one thing that stuck out the most was morning coffee.
He loved it, and I can’t remember a time that he didn’t go without it. He would drink about 2 cups a day in his favorite insulated stainless steel mug, black. When I lived at home to help my mom take care of him and grow my business, I would join him most mornings. He would be resting in the aforementioned chair with the aforementioned heat blanket, reading whatever book of choice he had picked for the next few days (fast reader!) Most of the time we would sit in silence.
We had the type of relationship that didn’t always call for words; I remember distinctly many times looking up at him just to observe – often recalling how brave I thought he was, how handsome he was, and loving that I have his complexion and his eyes. He’d meet my stare and simply smile back. And that was that. An easy “I love you” and “there’s no where else I’d rather be” exchange. We talked a lot, too. He was my mentor and one of my best friends. I never felt the need to withhold things from him because he was a man or because I thought it was too personal.
My dad was a guiding light when it came to relationships that had failed or thrived, he made sense of it all and offered me comfort along with steadfast advice to ensure things like that never happened again. He was a father to four girls, so he adjusted quickly to the act of tuning in emotionally to his kids. He knew we were sensitive and would need affection over words – he was the first to lend out his famous tight hugs. The ones that made you feel so safe you never even thought about letting go first. All of these things I would cherish and turn into permanent memories in my brain, in the off chance that perhaps one day it would be the only thing keeping me close to him.
So, as I told her this and reflected on our morning coffee dates, she said, “make that the time you tune into your dad; when you have your morning coffee.” It was like a light bulb. I loved the idea so much that I almost started to cry. It was perfect. Especially now that I have been waking up hours before Trent is up and moving, my quiet mornings were now the perfect time for me to reflect on my dad, to converse with him without words, to sit in the silence and appreciate his presence and all of the memories we had together. To go one step further, I had this coffee mug made with pictures of us throughout the stages of his life with me. Every single time that I look at it, I’m overwhelmed with love. Sometimes sorrow, but mostly, just love.
So thank you, Jamie, for opening my eyes to another way to tune into my dad. It’s helped tremendously, and now, when I sit down to write to him, the pages are overflowing with genuine words and updates on life and how I’m doing. No apologizing, no analyzing if I’m writing just to write – just genuine, honest conversation from pen to paper, from daughter to father.
So, daddy, today marks three months and I still can’t seem to comprehend how that’s possible. At this time in December, I was sitting right beside you and staring at you just as I had during our morning coffee. Thinking all the things I’ve thought every day for my entire life; how much I love you, how much I admire you, and how much I wish I could have had you in physical form for eternity. At 11:40 pm, that option was stripped from me, along with a large part of my heart and soul. Since I can’t have you here for the rest of my life, I promise you this:
Every morning for the rest of my life, I’ll meet you for morning coffee. I love you so.