Dear Dad,

It’s been 10 years since you took your last breath. I cried in yoga yesterday thinking about you. Although, full disclosure, Eliah made me work out with him on Friday so I was also crying because doing yoga with sore muscles from his workout was painful. I don’t cry as much as I used to, I promise, but something about the whole “10 years” thing has made this month harder than years prior.

I push my grief to March every year. I always know March will be hard so when I start to stumble during the other 11 months I just tell myself, “Wait. You get all of your crying out in March.” Which means when this day comes, the day you finally took your last breath after a month in hospice, the grief oozes out of my every pore. Thank you for dying on the last day of the month, April 1st always feels so cleansing for me like you just knew how much I loved beginnings.

I re-read the eulogy from your funeral like I do on this day every year. You would be so angry that I’m still floundering in my grief. You really wanted us to not make a big deal and not struggle with your death. But come on, Dad. You know me better than that. I struggle with EVERYTHING, it’s my brand.

Luckily, with no beliefs of an afterlife, I don’t have to worry about you seeing me struggle. ATHEISM HAS IT’S PERKS, DAD!

(You would have laughed at that.)

You’re missing out on so much and I have to keep my anger in check about that sometimes. You were a single Dad in the decades before the internet could have helped you answer some of the most difficult parenting challenges like, “How do I keep my teenage daughter from cutting her own bangs?” or “Do I lie to my daughter and tell her that her bangs look good?” You never seemed overwhelmed by the challenge and never acted like we exhausted you. DAD…I TELL MY KIDS EVERY DAY THEY EXHAUST ME…How did you do it?

family of eliah mccutchen

After all of that you earned the right to enjoy your grandchildren…and oh how you would have enjoyed them. You probably would have moved to Colorado to enjoy the mountains AND your grandchildren out there because – let’s face it – as much as you acted like you loved Monte Sano…Huntsville is no Denver.

You deserved to see your oldest grandchild graduate from college. He’s the only one with clear memories of you as he was a 14 when you died. You loved him so much and you would have just been amazed that our genetic line somehow produced such a cool adult. You would have loved to visit where he works and you would have loved listening to him talk about all of his interests. You would be so proud, Dad.

You deserved to see your son get married to the most amazing woman. You would have loved her so much, Dad. She so good at all of the things you and I always struggled with…making friends and being social. She and Chris are perfect together. And their sons, Dad…you deserved to meet them and play with them and explore with them.

All of those sacrifices you made to be a single Dad and you never really got to see how your efforts played out in our adulthood. You’ve missed weddings and birthdays. You’ve missed trail races and triathlons. You’ve missed musicals and science fairs. You’ve missed Chris successfully launching his own business and you’ve missed Donnie being successful in a career on a path where he started by teaching himself. You were always amazed that he taught himself programming…if only you could have seen how far it has taken him. All that with a Geography degree? You would have so loved that.

family of eliah mccutchen

And oh the conversations we would have had during this political climate. I think we would have done a lot more exchanging of books. You and I only ever overlapped in non-fictions which I didn’t really start reading a lot of until the last several years.

So many times I want your advice as I raise children who are too much like me. How did you handle me, Dad? Did you worry about me as much as I worry about them? I’m certain you did, although you never showed it. How did you do it without a spouse to confide in after the kids went to bed? Donnie is my rock and I don’t know how I’d survive without him on my parenting team. How did you do it without a network of friends to escape to? You never seemed to need to escape, or need to recharge. You considered parenting as the escape from the rest of your life. You turned to parenting to recharge. HOW DID YOU DO THAT?

I hope you knew how much you were loved and how grateful I was for everything you sacrificed for me. I wish we could have all had you for a little longer but I’m grateful for the lifetime’s worth of lessons you taught me during the time you were here.

Love you and miss you forever, Dad.

3 Comments