Today would’ve been my dad’s birthday. I think about him every day, but especially on August 9th and February 15th, the anniversary of his death. As most of you know, he died from cancer in 2009 when I was a senior in high school.
I always hear that he’s “watching over me.” I respect and admire people who believe that so unwaveringly, and it makes me feel so good when people say he’s still with me. If I’m being completely honest with myself, though, I’m just not sure that I believe it. First, because I’m not sure what I think when it comes to life after death. I’ve tried to convince myself that he knows the current me, and I just can’t. And second, if there is life after death, I hope he’s doing something much cooler than watching my boring life. In my ideal situation, my dad gets a highlight reel every once in awhile. You know, just cut to the good stuff.
So Dad, on your birthday, these are the things I want to tell you.
I grew out of my bratty teenage phase. Sometimes I get upset when friends laugh about all the ridiculous things they put their parents through when they were growing up. I hate it because you died when I was still in that awful phase. You died when I thought the world revolved around me, and I rarely showed any gratitude for what you & mom gave me. I cared only what my peers thought, and I would’ve skipped family dinner for a party any night of the week. I know that sometimes you questioned if it was a phase, or if I was actually just a stone cold bitch. I promise, I’m not. Slowly but surely, I grew out of that phase. I’m no longer embarrassed by everything Mom says or does, and I would rather hang out with her and Thomas than anyone else. Family stays when friends leave, and I’ve learned that over and over throughout the past seven years. Rest easy, because you didn’t spend 18 years raising the spawn of Satan.
Our family survived, and now we’re thriving. When you were sick, it seemed like our family’s future was the only thing that worried you (because you were selfless like that). I know you hated the thought that your death would, basically, screw us all over. We had some tough moments and of course we still do, but we love each other and we get through everything. K.Dubbz is now a vegan animal rescuer currently building her own farm in Georgia, and watching her find a whole new passion is the coolest (and most hilarious) thing. Thomas is kicking ass and taking names, and he’s the newest successful nerd of the family. I moved to California to try to be a writer… I have no idea what you would think about that, but I know you’d be happy that I’m so happy.
You still teach me things every single day. I know that I need to treat the man behind the counter at McDonald’s the same way I’d treat an esteemed dean of a school. I’ve learned to be proud of where I come from. You taught me that, while professional achievements and accolades are fantastic, family is what matters at the end of the day. You & mom showed me how a man should treat a woman, and that alone has gotten me through countless break-ups with guys that treat me less than I deserve. In your death, I learned that life is short. I learned that I should chase my dreams and explore my passions, because we have one shot at this. And Dad, I know you tried to teach me how *wonderful* science and math are… but that one just didn’t stick. 🙂
I fell in love with someone like you! I knew he was “the one” when he mentioned how important it is to empower women in math & science fields. He’s a scientist and a feminist and sometimes I feel like you had a hand in picking him for me. He supports me, he protects me, and he truly makes me better. As much as I wish I could have your spoken word of approval, I feel so content in my heart knowing that you would love him. You’d love Thomas’s fiancée too– she completes our family. She’s also an amazing cook, and she feeds us WELL. Mom and I couldn’t have handpicked someone better for your son. Thomas treats her so well… he’s really an incredible man. Sometimes I cry when I think about what a kick you’d get hanging out with all of us together, and I get a little bitter that you were robbed of that simple joy. I’m working on being at peace with it all.
I miss you. More than words can possibly come close to explaining. Since you’ve died, I’ve gone to college, I’ve moved (three times!), I’ve fallen in love, I’ve gotten new, wonderful family members, and I’ve discovered my passion. No matter where I go, who I meet, or what I do, you are always my first love and my first protector. You are my foundation, and that is why I feel so self-assured and confident in my own abilities. You were the best dad I could’ve asked for, and you play a pivotal role in every decision I make. In 18 years, you taught me more than some dads teach their daughters in a lifetime.
I love you, forever and then some.