“I want to thank you. Thank you for being our hero. Thank you for being silly and for going along with our ‘penguin hugs’. For being so caring. For showing us the good in the world. For your laugh. For always helping others. For passing on your need for perfection in everything! For fixing things and making everything better. For everything you were and did. Thank you for being the best dad we could have ever asked for.”
I’ve started this post several times. Deleted it several times. Cried a little. Questioned what I was doing. And then started writing it all over again.
The reason being? Because after wondering why I was doing it and what I was even trying to say, I stumbled across Emma (The Crap Flat) and Robyn (almost_everything_off_ebay)‘s post about ‘Others Day’. A way to open up the conversation, acknowledge those dads who may no longer be with us, and to simply show support to one another who may need it this Father’s Day.
And I suppose that’s the beauty of having this space. To share your voice. So, here goes.
You see, this time of year is always a difficult one. I can’t even count the number of emails I’ve had come through to my inbox over the past few weeks with constant reminders that ‘It’s not too late!’ to get my dad a present. It’s been almost 8 years and those Father’s Day reminders are still tough.
The truth is, I don’t think with time it’s necessarily got any easier to deal with. Losing anyone – let alone a parent – in my opinion, is one of the hardest things you’ll experience in life. And no, I’ve never had that pivotal moment since that you hear about when I’d dealt with the grief, felt stronger in myself and entered this ‘new and different chapter’ of my life.
That’s the painful thing about grief. It’s unpredictable. It writes a different story from one person to the other. There’s no time stamp on it. Or any guidelines to follow that will mean you will see it through any quicker. It may never go. It can be all consuming. Or you can manage to stamp it down as best you can, for as long as you can. There is no one rule fits all.
And unfortunately, I’m definitely not one to be able to share what grief is. Or tell you how to ‘ride the wave’. I’m not sure there’s even a ‘right’ way to do it. Anger, sadness, a billion unanswered questions…it all happens. Almost 8 years since and I question as to whether I’ve followed the ‘process’ properly and ever really dealt with it. I tried to shut it out (which I wouldn’t recommend). But all I can say is this. Take your time. Do what feels right. And don’t be too hard on yourself.
So, taking those words on board, I give you:
An open letter to my dad…
Hi dad! Happy Father’s Day. You may not be here with us, but this day is still yours. I’m sorry you’re missing out on us spoiling you, but I can guarantee we’re all thinking about you. Always.
I hope you’re ok. And I hope you know we’re all doing ok too. Time hasn’t waited for us. I don’t even know where the past 8 years have gone! But we’re ok.
I was just 17 at the time you were diagnosed with Leukaemia. That feels like a lifetime ago, but like it was just yesterday at the same time. I didn’t even know you’d gone to the Doctors. I was in sixth form and received a text from Ali and Laura to say they were coming to pick me up. I had more lessons that day and so instantly knew something was wrong.
They told me the news in the car. I was devastated. I came home and gave you a hug, but I had no words of what to say to you. Something that seemed to be a trend for a while. I’m sorry. You were always this big, strong figure in our lives that we could depend on always being there to protect us, and now we couldn’t protect you. Just 6 weeks later and you were gone.
I had my driving test just a week before we lost you. You helped me to get in all that extra practise at the weekend! It’s still some of my fondest memories. I still think of you now when I drive – to always make sure I change up gears even if I’m coming to a roundabout or the likes very soon! And of course to make sure I hold the steering wheel properly!
I didn’t tell my driving instructor you were ill. I didn’t even know how to begin to talk about it to anyone. But somehow, despite everything that was going on, I passed first time and I couldn’t wait to tell you. In all honesty, I’m not sure you ever really knew that I’d passed. I hope you did. But you were so ill at the time. But I know for a fact I wouldn’t have done it without you. So thank you.
I hope you don’t mind me writing this letter. To put it simply – I miss you. We all do. I know that will never change and I know it never really gets much easier, but I’m proud of how far we’ve all come.
And I want to apologise.
For a long time I couldn’t even mention your name in conversation. I still struggle with it now and get a lump in my throat every time. I know it hurt Mum. I should probably apologise to her too. But I want you to know it was never because I didn’t miss you, or want to talk about the memories we had. Although I think you know that. I just had no idea how to deal with you no longer being here. It felt like if I started to speak about you, I would just break down in tears and I was afraid I wouldn’t know how to stop. I wanted to try and be strong, for everyone.
I don’t want this to be a sad letter. I’ve had to accept that you won’t be here to see many big, pivotal moments in our lives going forward. It’s been hard that you’ve missed my 18th birthday, moving me into Uni, graduation, helping fix the odd thing here and there in our house and meeting Harry. It hurts that you won’t be the one walking me down the aisle. That you won’t see your grandchildren. That you won’t see the first house I buy. But I hope, somehow, you’ll know about it all.
I know you’re not meant to have any regrets, but of course I’d do a few things differently to spend more time with you.
I’d have prolonged the late night Tesco trips we had to get all of the bargains! I’d have carried on waking up early to wave you off to work from my bedroom window and I’d have spent a lot less time on MSN! But I’m so grateful too. Grateful to have had you as my dad. For having such a close, supportive family. And I’m grateful for everything you gave us.
So I want to thank you. Thank you for being our hero. Thank you for being silly and for going along with our ‘penguin hugs’. For being so caring. For showing us the good in the world. For your laugh. For always helping others. For passing on your need for perfection in everything! For fixing things and making everything better. For everything you were and did. Thank you for being the best dad we could have ever asked for.
We miss you and love you.
As you’d say – BFN (bye for now) x