Dear Dad,

I have this wide assortment of things I wanted to write about this morning on my blog. The blog you used to read every day which is probably one of the things that motivated me every morning to write. I was wanting to write about my hydration pack, or maybe about how much I hate this weird trend of shaming entertainment choices in an attempt to encourage compassion. I also considered writing about the several incidental-but-embarrassing errors I made yesterday. You know, the kind that would normally keep me from sleeping as I replay them over and over and over again? They didn’t last night because I took melatonin to try to turn off the voices. BUT STILL. So many embarrassing errors.

But then I sat down and just thought, Shit…I really miss my Dad.

And I started crying, which I know you would HATE and it would probably make you yell at me, “Dammit, Kim. I didn’t want my death to be a big deal!”

But that’s the thing about losing someone you love, someone who was such a big part of your life, of your heart, of your soul…it’s always going to be a big deal.

When I was overwhelmed with life, you always were quick with a compliment. “I don’t see how you do it.” You said that to me all the time. You were just as in awe of my brother when we would discuss what he was up to. You couldn’t understand how I juggled so many balls and you didn’t every understand how he did so well in a career that you and I would have failed at miserably. You were just never EVER one to hold back in telling us that you were amazed by us and since we put you on such a tall pedestal…those words were priceless.

Maybe this is just one of those days where I need someone to tell me I’m amazing.


That’s not it, because I actually have made a point since you died – consciously or not – to surround myself with positive influences and positive people. Dad? You would love my friends SO MUCH. I wish you could meet them all. Some days when we’re riding our bikes or running through the woods I think, “I might could have talked Dad into moving here after meeting these people.” So it’s not that I need someone to tell me I’m amazing, my friends feed me that energy just as I feed it to them.

I need you to tell me I’m amazing.

I actually cry over missing you more than I like to admit. The kids see it a lot. Sometimes they even know the trigger, like when I was dusting Nikki’s shelf the other day and saw your silly trigonometry book that she just loved so much. Or when I’m talking about how much I wish you were alive to enjoy Sunday Family Dinners. I think maybe I’ve been crying even more over missing you lately, maybe just because life is overwhelming right now and I’m fragile.

Donnie’s Ironman is in two weeks and I so wish you could be there with us to cheer him on. You loved Chattanooga so much and you would have carried the backpack full of water and snacks for me so that my back wouldn’t hurt for the next solid month.

Except, of course, that the blood cancer that killed you so seemingly suddenly, caused microfractures over your entire skeleton and one of the things we talked about regarding your decision to not consider cancer treatment was your sadness over not being able to carry your backpack. The pain was too much.

But in my imaginary world where you’re with us in Chattanooga, you’re obviously cancer-free.

That would be really shitty of me to imagine a world where you were back with us, but still riddled with cancer.

The kids are growing so much, E is about to be old enough to drink, and I’m still me…overwhelmed by my personal life and the life around me. I’m very passionate about a lot of issues both locally and globally – I’m not sure that side of me had really blossomed yet before you died. And lately it just seems like every day there is something upsetting me. The county clerk in Kentucky who still won’t issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples (YEAH! It’s legal nationwide now! You would be so impressed) and today there’s news that our state decided to continue giving tax breaks to corporations and to balance the budget on the backs of our education system because no one wants to raise taxes in any way in this state.

Maybe that’s why I started thinking of you this morning, because you were the most fiscally liberal person I knew. I remember once talking and how you wished there was a program where poor people could get cheap-but-stable modes of transportation. Mainly because the public transportation system in Knoxville was so abysmal so people without means had difficulty finding jobs. You said, “I’d pay more taxes for that, no problem.” You even said that if you thought it would be managed well you’d give all your money in taxes. “I really just need a place to live, my bicycle, and a library card to survive.” I joked with you that you should find a nice commune to join.

So maybe that’s what’s got me missing you this morning. My overwhelming sadness over the state of our state and knowing that you were shockingly (being a kind of stoic engineer) my hippie friend that I could talk civil economics with.

Or maybe it’s Fall. Fall has always been a weird time of year for me. I had a bad Autumn in 1999 and it still leaves me with this residual sadness and anxiety when the temperatures drop. And whenever I’m sad or anxious I miss my grounding phone calls to you more. It’s been 6.5 years and I still miss calling you so bad that I’m sobbing at 4:45am on a Tuesday morning.

I think I need to build a fake day today, Dad. I think I’ll stay off social media for the day and just curate my world – if possible – so that I’m only seeing joy. I think I’ll put blinders on today. I know that’s not a very grown-up thing to do, but I remember doing it after Sandy Hook too – just stepping away from the world delivering me news that I was too fragile to cope with. I guess that without you to ground me, some days I just need to self-preserve. Today is MOST DEFINITELY one of those days.

I guess though, I should maybe also spend the day being positive so that my light can dilute the darkness that I feel like is overwhelming me this morning. Maybe I should shut out the world for the day, just so I can be free to shine my light.

I just miss you so much, Dad. You were always the unique light I needed on my darkest days. The people I love all light my world in their own way, but your light is still missing and some days I can’t see the other light because the darkness left by your death is just too engulfing.

Jeezus. That’s not a very positive way to end this letter to you, is it? Especially considering no part of me believes in a conscious life after death so I’m very knowingly just writing this for myself. Hell, if I honestly believed part of you could see this I would not write it because it would TOTALLY PISS YOU OFF. Nope, this is a letter to myself disguised as a letter to you. So, I should probably try to end it on a higher note.

I’ve been telling the kids your jokes lately. How, if I asked you to make me a sandwich you would hold out an imaginary wand and say, “Poof! You’re a sandwich!” Or how if I asked you to turn off the light you would turn it off, then turn it back on again and leave the room. “You didn’t ask me to leave it off.” Nikki even did that EXACT thing to me last night. I think you would like that, knowing that I have taught my kids how to torture me in the SAME WAY you did when I was a teenager.

Love you, Dad.



Holding On To Grief

I had to get up early for a work related task and as I was mulling over my blog post for the day I thought, Hmmm…maybe I’ll tell everyone about my spicy okra and beans from last night!

If I believed in any sort of life after death I would tell you that my Dad would see that thought and say, “Thank goodness. She’s finally going to let March 31st pass without some sappy entry about how much she misses me.” And while I don’t believe he’s watching over me in any way, it was a little jarring to momentarily forget that today was the day – six years ago – that he left me forever. It was especially shocking to have forgetten because Dad has been on my mind so much lately. Much more so than usual, as I’ve been feeling fresh waves of guilt the last month that almost feel like I said goodbye only yesterday. This has been a surprise, that the depth of the sadness can still feel so vast even six years away. But it has lately – really since the new year – it’s felt vivid and new and painfully raw. His new grandson, Donnie’s Ironman, E’s college experience, my Grand Slam, Wes’s basketball and Nikki’s vocabulary and dialog development…there are so many things over the last six months that have just made me scream to the clouds time and time again: WHY IS HE NOT STILL HERE TO EXPERIENCE THIS?

The sadness has tainted just about every breath I’ve taken these last few months and I’ll be honest – part of me doesn’t want to shake it off. Part of me has felt a renewed closeness to him with this fresh wave of grief, and I wonder if I’m holding onto it as a way to hold on to him. I know that over the last six years I’ve felt that before – a need to hold on to the grief when it hits. So part of me kinda got mad at myself this morning: Zoot! Okra? How could you be thinking about OKRA on the anniversary of your Dad’s death? I was mad I had momentarily stuck my head out of this fog of sadness and forgotten about how much I missed him.


But I know that’s silly. If there’s anything this wave of pain has taught me is that no amount of time will fade the grief forever. While part of me fears that letting the sadness pass means that a part of him passes again, I know that is not how it works. I know that time does not build an insurmountable wall protecting me from sadness forever – it only builds small barrier that keeps it at bay so I can live my life. But the grief – it’s always there and letting go now doesn’t not mean I’m saying goodbye again.

I turn 40 in July, but in my heart I’ll always be a Daddy’s girl.

I miss you so much, Dad. Tears trickle down my face as I try to find new pictures of you that I’ve not shown before, because I didn’t know during any of these moments that you’d be gone so soon. I would give anything to have these moments back again.






I remember the faces.

Nikki and I have talked a lot about death recently. It’s been a weird stretch in my life where I’ve had several people close to me lose parents. So many that, when Nikki and I went to a service, she actually thought we were there for a different friend, at first.

But it was she and I attending that service that prompted one of the most important conversations, I believe, that we could have about death. And basically the point? “Be there.”

We had a weird schedule that night and she and I had to be somewhere together after the service. While Donnie didn’t mind bringing her to me, he really didn’t want to do that. So, she willingly volunteered to go with me, even though she’s 9 and death is scary.

So we talked a lot about these type of services and what purpose they serve.

DSC_0415See…before my Dad died…(That’s kinda how you permanently categorize your life after you lost a loved one, Before and After. Because so much changes in you, it’s always an important distinction to make.) I basically decided to go to a service based on how many people might be there. If I thought there would be a lot of people? Then I wouldn’t bother because there would be plenty of hugs to go around. I also skipped services if it was even remotely inconvenient because – let’s be honest – no one likes events surrounding someone’s death.

And then my Dad died. And things look so different now.

I’m an awkward person, socially speaking. Put me in a calm and casual gathering with people I know and trust and I’m still going to say something asinine and awkward. So, you can imagine I’m just a fountain of gauche if I’m in an uncomfortable situation surrounded by people I don’t know. So, talking to people about the loss of a loved one? Oh, man. Let’s just say that, on the list of memoir titles that are always running through my head? One of them is: “Why you shouldn’t talk about menstruating at a funeral.”

Been there. Done that.

But, as I told Nikki, I don’t remember many of the specific words people said to me at my Dad’s service. But – oh man – do I remember the faces. I didn’t matter what they said (although I probably would remember someone discussing their period) it just mattered that they came. Before Dad died? I didn’t have a lot of friends, and I didn’t live in the town he died. Yet…so many people from my childhood came and each and every one of their faces meant the world to me. Did it matter if they had the perfect words to share about grief and sympathy? Not at all. And if they gave them? I don’t remember. I just remember the warmth of my heart when I saw them there. And now…I want to always try to be one of the faces there for my friends and family.

It’s the faces that matter. They matter so much more than the words.

I have another service to attend today and Nikki actually asked if I could check her out of school to come too. It doesn’t really work out, time wise, but that meant a lot to me. She’s not the type that just loves missing school, so I’d like to think that she understood the talk and she just wanted to be one of the faces there in support.

If you’re ever uncomfortable or not sure what to say, just remember…it’s the faces that matter. Be one of the faces. The words will come, and they might be awkward, but the person will remember your face above all of that.

And also, remember, as long as you’re not talking about how bad your menstruation issues are? You’re doing better than I am.

Dad took selfies long before it was cool.


Today is (would be?) my Dad’s birthday. I thought about doing a “Dear Dad” entry like I’ve done before, but that always rings a little false since I don’t believe in any sort of afterlife.

I used to pray a lot back when I was a believer, and I miss that feeling of just talking into the void. Some nights I start…and think, “Hey Dad…” but it just feels weird. Same as when my faith was fading and I would try to pray. When you don’t believe? You just don’t believe. And pretending doesn’t do anything for me.

These last few months I’ve been more stressed than usual, sleeping poorly, worried about more than usual – and thinking about talking to him just reminds me how much I miss talking to him. Then I end up just crying from the pain of losing him all over again.

He’s been gone over 5 years now, but at night, when I’m alone with my thoughts and that hole in my heart? It feels like it was only yesterday.

There are still so many things I long to tell him. From science news like the success of the first launch of Orion, to family news like Donnie’s new job. Man…I know he’d love to talk to Donnie about that…there are so many stories Donnie comes home with and I know my Dad would have loved to hear them. I think he would have been a software developer if he had been born in our generation, the logic of coding would have totally appealed to him.

I think the thing I wish he could see the most is E as an adult. He has turned out to be such an amazing man. Dad would have ADORED his since of humor. He would have laughed his ass off at this tweet:

He would have been fascinated by his college and the artsy-fartsy nature of the student body. Dad would have gone to the big competition of battling musicals in February and would have ADORED the battling cheers/chants/songs of the night. He would have been as intrigued by Greek Life as I have been and would have been amazed that E held down 3 jobs last semester and still ended up with good grades. Dad didn’t really know my other two kids, but he knew E and seeing the adult he turned out to be would have just blown his mind. He would be beyond proud and that’s probably the thing I regret the most that he can’t see.

Of course he would love our adventures in fitness and my trail running. Dad was an outdoorsman, hoped to hike the AT some day…but I don’t know if he ever knew about trail running. He was a 5K’er himself…ran that distance several times a week up until he got sick. He would have loved for me to show him some of my favorite trails. He also would have been at Donnie’s Ironman, covering the entire 16 miles on foot with me as we spectated the entire day.

I miss him terribly. I still cry regularly over the pain of missing him. Time does make things easier. I can think about him and not hurt every time. But, man, especially lately when I’ve just been so tired and stressed…I just miss him so much still. Some days I just need him to be here, to talk to me, to hug me, and I feel like if I cry hard enough…maybe he’ll come back? I guess the child in me is still banking on some sort of movie magic in my life that – if I need him enough – will give me just one more moment with him.

Alas, there’s no movie magic in my life. He’s gone. While he was alive, he and I took turns forgetting each other’s birthdays, but in the years since he’s been gone the birthday hits me like a ton of bricks every year. I wish I could forget it again, honestly. Especially weeks like this one where I’m stressed and tired and just an emotional basketcase to begin with…his birthday does not drift gently. It slaps me in the face with the painful reminder than the man who raised me is gone and my two younger children will never even know him.

Happy Birthday, Dad.

Sometimes I’m really mad at you for leaving me so early.

Dad took selfies long before it was cool.

Dad took selfies long before it was cool.


The Sadz Demand To Be Felt.

I’ve found myself a little sad these last couple days because I seem to be missing my Dad a little more than usual. I’m dealing with the sads by eating all of the vegan foods in all of the land. I’m going to be the first morbidly obese vegan in the history of the planet.

So, I sat down to write yesterday morning like I always do and just couldn’t because I was all, “Wah. The Sads.”

It’s funny because, to my logical brain it makes sense that some days I’m going to really be sad about missing my Dad. He’s gone! I loved him! That makes sense! But the insecure emotional side is all, “FIVE YEARS, Kim. No one wants to hear you still whining about your Dad FIVE YEARS later.”

But Day 2 and I sat down to write and all I could think was, “Wah. The Sads.”

The funny thing is what has triggered this sadness. Well, one thing is funny and one thing is interesting. The first thing is: My laptop is dying. It’s been struggling for awhile but it seems it might be knocking on deaths door. It was a gift from my Dad and my Brother in 2008 and my Dad died in 2009. This means I am super-duper sentimentally attached to the thing and when I look at it on the table, knowing it might not power back up again (issues with batteries, power supplies, and fans…also the hardware is now too old for any updates in software) and I tear up a little.

Basically, my laptop is making me sad. Which my Dad would find funny.

The other thing which is more interesting than funny is that I’m really getting into Ironman Mode. Donnie has been training so hard for months already and we’re almost to the 6 week countdown. (That’s not a real thing to anyone but me, by the way.) And man, my Dad would LOVE to see this. First of all, he loved Chattanooga with all of his heart. Second of all? He loved Donnie. In 2005 he traveled out west to see my brother do an Ironman and he came home just fascinated by the whole thing. He’s the first one who told me about strippers. (I love saying that sentence. It never stops being funny.) Strippers rip the wetsuits off the athletes after they come out of the water. He thought my brother was insane, of course, but he loved being there witnessing the insanity. And I think he’d really love to see the same insanity in one of his favorite cities.

So. Laptop. Ironman. Missing Dad.

Thanks for letting me dump out my Sadz all over the place, I kinda annoy myself blogging about that stuff, but then the Not Blogging about it makes it worse because Blogging is my therapy so, you know, I’d save us all time if I just got it out on Day 01.

And so that I don’t just end this entry on a “Wah. I has the sadz.” note, I’ll add a little bit of exciting news to the mix.


Someone passed the swim test at the Y and finally got his white band! He didn’t stress as much about the test as his sister did (she can swim a 600yd workout and still hates that they make her retake the 25m swim test at Kid’s Night Out) but he hadn’t passed it yet because they don’t let you take a Swim On Your Back break as you cross the 25yd pool, and my kids love those breaks. I’ve taught them if they panic, or get too tired, flip on their back, don’t go to the side. So, great life lesson, not so great with passing the swim test so you can swim without your Mom by your side.

But he did it! He is so very excited!