Letters to My Dad

My dad passed on 12/02/15. I still talk to him. When I do, I hear his voice in my own and it reminds me how much he still lives.

Dear Dad,

It’s going to be four years that you’re gone. A college education’s worth of time. And tho I still don’t have a degree, the amount of learning I have done since December 2015 feels worthy of a ceremony.

| At my Aunt's house, so many years ago.

The car you picked out for me when I was 20, turned 18, lost its rear shocks somewhere on the trips to perform in New York, and then got hit by a tree this summer. I will donate it to help support public radio and journalism before it turns 19. The rear window is replaced with a shower curtain and duct tape - your favorite fix - and makes looking back challenging.

I’m worried about Thanksgiving Day. It’s the day you went in to the ER because you couldn’t breathe, the last night I heard your voice alive, the day, two years later, that I lost the second baby. I have a lot to be grateful for. But much like when I was a Jehovah’s Witness all those years ago, I still don’t like to celebrate Thanksgiving.

The man you met twice is still standing next to me. We are walking through all of this life together. He has witnessed rivers in me. I have been learning to heal my relationship with you while building one with him. It is very hard work for me and the foundation we have is stronger than I knew possible even while our personalities flap about like flags around the door way. Solid yet still moved by the wind.

My despair over you is unchanged. I have learned to house it in every EXIT sign I see. There is one in my office. Sometimes I look at it when clients tell me about their sorrow. It gives me a way out. A way to feel engaged with the ultimate grief of missing you instead of being drowned by it.

Your guitar is hanging on my wall and reverberates when I get too loud. Mom and I drink coffee in that room and talk. I haven’t learned to play it yet but I don’t bite my nails anymore, just in case. The capos and a couple of your picks are standing on a shelf nearby. I haven’t listened to all the tapes yet - I don’t always feel ready to travel back that far.

The locket you kept is with me still. It’s turned kind of green around the edges. That’s my favorite color so I don’t mind. Funny how “being green” can also be a sign of age. I’m four years old in that picture and full of dimples. Not much has changed really.

I am reeling back my work hours next year based on your example. I watched you work so hard and then die the same year you retired. Work has been my solace these four years. My company is healthy. Full of wonderful people. It’s time for me to remember who I am when I’m not taking care of others. To refocus on that four year old in the locket with the blue jumper and the three embroidered balloons.

You are loved. I know I haven’t reached out in awhile. It’s hard to feel the loss in the attempts. We always said so much without words. I wish I could sit next to you again. I know someday, I will.

Blessed Be Dad,

your daughter, Krista

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