Dear Dad,

I’ve been finding it harder and harder to write you letters as the years tick by. I feel like I barely remember you, and that is sad.

I do remember the sound of your voice singing me to sleep, and how your beard scratched my cheek when you kissed me.

I remember how your front tooth was chipped, though I don’t remember how you chipped it.

I remember that you used to pull me and Rob around and around the driveway on our sled when it snowed. (How did you possibly find the energy for that??)

I remember that you loved watching the birds outside the kitchen window as they pecked at the food you left for them.

I remember your pen and ink drawings of dragons and you teaching me how to draw a daffodil.

I remember your Indiana Jones hat and leather jacket.

I remember the waxy feel of your shoulders as you swam the length of our pool with me on your back.

I remember watching fireworks in the woods behind our house, sitting on lawn chairs and swatting at mosquitoes.

I remember the campfire behind the house where you told ghost stories that I’ll never remember.

I remember helping you weed your gardens and riding with you on the lawn mower on summer afternoons.

Our family managed to stick together for a while after you died. We’re still together, too, I guess, but it’s so different now. We’re together, if by together you mean together in California, Florida, and New York. We’re together, if by together you mean only communicating via e-mail once or twice a week. We’re together, if by together you mean we don’t even see each other for holidays or birthdays any more.

Sometimes I think maybe this would be a good time to start a family of my own, to try to start over again from scratch. It seems so selfish to think that could actually happen, because kids have minds and souls of their own. They don’t exist to heal their parents’ open wounds. And what would I do if in 12 years or 10 years my husband died, or if I fell into a deep, incurable depression when my kids were still in college? Or what if they were addicts? How could I live through the heartache of loving and losing someone like that, again? Loss is inevitable; haven’t I had enough of it already?

These are tough times for me right now. It’s refreshing to know, looking back, that this time of year always was a little tougher for me than I thought. It’s refreshing because at least I know I’ve always managed to bounce back again and find the real me on the other side, waiting. And, I guess, you have helped me by making me that person in your own way, whether it was live and in person or not. And for that, even though you’re not here for me to tell you in person, I thank you.

With love,
Caitlin

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