I was sixteen then and I'll be twenty-six next week. You weren't there for my first broken heart, you weren't there for my graduation from high school, college, or law school. You didn't walk me down the aisle. None of my friends have ever met you. You don't know my husband and you'll never know my children. I guess what makes me the most sad is that after my high school graduation, I stopped feeling your absense so acutely. It seemed more like an incredible, abstract idea that you could've been there to begin with. In all honesty, I can't imagine what it would feel like to say "Dad" to a living person and it not be a story about you or in reference to someone else. Sometimes I say it in my head just to imagine what it would be like to call you on the phone. What would I say? The space that you left was never filled, but my life has grown around it.
Card from some old birthday flowers.
It's been ten years and no matter how hard I've tried, I've forgotten some things. I have a lot of guilt about that because I know that there aren't a whole lot of people walking around with memories of you. I wanted to be the bearer of all of those things. You were a kind, smart, funny, deep feeling and thinking person and I feel a huge responsibility to make sure that those who love me and didn't know you, know that.
The thing that I try to remember the most is what it felt like to be a father's daughter, his little girl. That one slips away from me the most and is the hardest to remember. That's the most precious. If I'm not vigilant, a characature will take its place. The version of you that's the result of my own telling and retelling and retelling of stories. The you that's placed on the highest of pedestals. None of those things are false, but they are definitely empty. The you that smiled with the same smile as me and knew my thoughts better than I do, the one who loved me to my core, the you that I idolized from birth--that's the one I want to protect in my memory.
I hope that you would be as proud of me today as you were when you were here. You're a frequent contributor on the playlist that is the voice in my head and my conscience. I have married a man that is wonderfully (and frighteningly) like you. He thinks that my quirks and my wit are my best qualities and he always pushes me to be better. He is gentle and kind. He never talks to hear is own voice and he would do anything for me. Like you, he's leary of people he doesn't know, but feircely loyal and protective of the people he loves. His hands look like yours. He loves me for all the things that I have been since I was a little girl. I know you would love him too. His football preferences leave something to be desired, but what I can do?
I know you weren't a religious man, per se, but I hope that you have found the peace you so very much deserved. Know that I'm happy, and that when I'm not, I'm working on it. I think that's where I would have made you the most proud. It might always make me a little sad to see a bride dance with her father. When I hear Melissa by the Allman Brothers, I'll always hear you sing. I might never conquer my fiery indignation and I'll probably always be a bit of a softy, but all in all I'm a pretty happy girl. This letter could never convey what is and what's lost, but I know that even when my words fail me and my meaning is part image and part emotion, you would still know me, even in the dark.