I woke up today, remembering a moment in time, a year ago today when I am sitting at your hospital bed. We were alone and I tell you I miss you. I whisper, “Please don’t leave me Pops.” I stroke your hair, adjust your blanket and wipe a tear from my eyes. Then, I allow my mind to replay special moments we shared together and I hope this isn’t the end.
I felt this overwhelming sense of responsibility to look out for you, despite the challenges it presented. As I think of it now, I know I feel a special sense of gratitude to you and mom for adopting me. I guess, helping you was my way of saying thank you. But how do you adequately express gratitude for a life of endless opportunity that you would never have had otherwise?
It wasn’t always easy, was it? at times, your needs frustrated and overwhelmed my life and I realized just how demanding being a caregiver can be. Despite the challenges, spending time with you was a gift that now, even in the saddest moments, brings me solace.
In our last conversation, you convinced me not to come to the hospital right away. You said, “Let’s see how things are tomorrow.” You, ever the optimist, I relented. I didn’t know that we would never speak again.
As we all gathered at the hospital, we waited and shared memories of our childhood. We laughed and cried, played your favorite musical theater soundtracks and talked to you. I hope you heard and felt us. There were special, unexpected moments where you smiled or reacted to our voices…giving us a glimmer of hope that maybe, just maybe things would be ok.
After a week of sleepless nights and long days, you left us all on that last day. As we held your hands and kissed your forehead, you took one last breath and with that, left a legacy of determination, service, love, family and ultimately, hope that the profound memories and enduring lessons you left us with will one day outweigh the pain of not having you walk beside us through the rest of our lives.
No one can adequately describe the grief process because it is such a personal and individual journey. It’s a long and winding road, punctuated by moments of numbing sadness, longing, and regret. There were so many times over the last year that I wanted to pick up the phone and talk to you. I would’ve told you about the challenges and the joys of my life, recounted a funny story about one of your grandchildren, or just listen as you share a funny memory or theorize the political news of the day.
Now, I see you clearly in a place where you are free of the physical pain. You are with Gram and Unc, smiling, and telling a funny story and “shooting the shi!” as we used to call it. Gram is listening, shaking her head, and smiling, because she is with her two son’s once again.
So, Dad, this letter is my way of saying thank you…Thank you for the moments of my life that were the most special, and too numerous to count.
Thank you for the moments of my life that were the most special, and too numerous to count.
Thank you for giving me a great mom and siblings.
Thank you for always making me feel safe in the world.
Thank you for instilling a sense of purpose, self-worth, and responsibility in me.
Thank you for all the stories and the laughs.
Thank you for being there when things were not so easy.
Thank you for saying, I believe in you, and making ME believe too.
Thank you for being a fighter, and showing me how to never give up.
Dad, I will always hold you in my heart and my dreams… until I hope, we meet again.
Originally published at medium.com