No matter how many hours you spend listening to the air moving through a breathing machine, how much you stare at the peaks and valleys that roll across a hospital monitor, how long someone has been sick – you never really believe that one whoosh of air through the tubes will be the last. I know it has been a long and difficult battle and I know that you were tired. But I just can’t believe that you’re gone.
You always smiled sweetly when you told me the story of how I was just a wee girl and you bought me a beach bucket and shovel. When you gave it to me I looked up at you with stars in my eyes and said, “Oh, Daddy! You’re the best daddy I ever had.” Never has that been more true than today.
In just a few hours an irreparable hole has been torn in the fabric of my life. Though I’ve tried to steel myself to eventually face this day, the truth is – you can never really be prepared for this type of finality. I miss knowing you are here in the world. It tears me apart that I will never again hear you say, “boy, am I glad to see you,” and I’ll never again say, “I’m always glad to see you,” in return. You know, the way we always did.
When you last held my hand and touched my cheek, you asked me to say a prayer for you. Well, I want you to know that I did. I prayed for you to have peace, to be without fear, without pain. But I can’t help but be afraid. I’m afraid that I’ll forget what your voice sounds like or that I won’t be able to hear your laugh anymore when I think about you.
Mom told me today that you still carry my kindergarten picture in your wallet. After 35 years in there it has long since faded but she said you still loved it. Even though you’ve always told me that you love me and that you are proud of me, it’s the little things like that make me feel like a million bucks. Underneath that tough, brave, unapologetic exterior you have always been a softy. Thank you for always loving me, no matter what.
I’m really sad that we never did get to take a ride in the Ural together. I know how much you were looking forward to that. If it’s okay with mom, I’d like to ride you to the place where we will spread your ashes. Never in a million years did I think our ride together would turn out this way, but it is all I can do.
“Don’t you let those boys see you cry.” Do you remember when you said that to me? Well, I’m trying, Dad. I’m trying.
I love you. Always.