Dad, Grief

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.

No.

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.

10 thoughts on “Dear Dad,”

  1. Your Dad was such a great guy and he raised an amazing daughter! I’m sorry you feel sad but I can really see why you miss him so much. This post also makes me think I should call my parents more while I still can.

  2. It’s funny that you will let him talk to you through nikki but not your heart. After life or not, he read the post. And misses you more than you miss him. Oh, and none of us know how you do it all. It wasn’t just him.

  3. I loved reading this! I don’t think I ever got a chance to meet your dad (maybe I did when I was a baby) but I know my dad liked him a lot and that he even taught my dad stuff! My dad was telling me about a month ago when he was adding a light to a room and creating a switch for it (all this electrical stuff) and he said “Pat taught me how to do that when he helped me build a room for you in our old house!” I wish I did get a chance to meet him. It sounds like he was an amazing person! 🙂

  4. Kristen – that’s HILARIOUS because my Mom tells a story about how your Dad was helping my Dad install lights in part of our old house, I guess my Dad was kinda brutal (grin) and she says she walked in and your Dad’s head was hanging through the hole in the ceiling where the light was supposed to go and I think he was complaining that my Dad was working him to death and he couldn’t breathe in the attic. HAHAHAH!

  5. And Kristen/Zoot that was the funniest thing I had ever seen. Kristen, your dad’s face was sooooooo red and he kept saying Pat was beating him. Pat didn’t think it was as funny as your dad and I did though.
    Pat was a wonderful guy and I know he’s thinking how amazed he is by his fantastic daughter and wonderful son. So proud..

  6. I had to read this one in increments–it got me right in the feels, which always creates many of the tears.

    I’m sorry it’s a sad day.

  7. girl, i’ve been missing my mom like crazy lately, too. i don’t now why it’s been so strong suddenly…maybe A leaving again for college or any number of the random challenges life has brought recently? i don’t know…i just know it’s like these years w/out her haven’t passed at all and her absence is SO OBVIOUS it’s hard to breathe.

    big, HUGE hugs to you…love you

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