It has only been four and a half years since we said good-bye to Dad and now I have to say good-bye to you. I keep thinking I’m going to wake up from this nightmare, yet every morning I’ve woken up, and you are still gone. I’ve asked myself over and over what I’m going to do and I keep coming back to the one thing you said we had to do after we lost Dad, keep our heads up and keep on going.
Over the past few months I’ve tried to look back on the past 25 years and remember everything you and Dad tried to teach me, and while you think I may not have always been listening to what you said, I was. I think the most important lessons you have taught me have come in the last 5 years, in the words you haven’t said. You taught me how to love, support, and care for the love of your life while he’s fighting for his. You taught me that loving someone with all of your heart and soul sometimes means watching them hurt and stumble, but being there to pick them up when they need it. You taught me how to be strong, when all you want to do is be weak. You taught me how to fight, and how to do it with a vengeance. And you taught me how to let go, knowing that by letting go you would be leaving me, but knowing that I would be ok.
As I sit here and write this, I think about the kids, Kalina, Autumn, and Ryland. I think about how much of an impact you’ve had on their young lives. The way their faces lit up when they knew they were coming to California and going to “Pony’s house”. I think about how special Kalina felt when you gave her the princess dress and how she lights up when she has it on. I think about the time you taught them to hang their spaghetti noodle out of their mouth and swing it from side to side. You would ALWAYS look for, and find, the loudest, most obnoxious, parent-hating toy to give them for their birthday or Christmas. And then I think about how you won’t get to watch them grow up and it breaks my heart, because those three little kids love you more than you can believe!
I think about those kids Mom, and then I think about you and me. We had so much more left to do, so much more left to see. You’ve always told me that it’s the little things that matter the most. That( it’s the) little extra detail or gesture that someone will remember. What you don’t know is that it’s the absence of those little things that hurt the most. Next month is my 25th birthday, my “golden birthday”. This will be the first year I won’t have a card from you, the dogs, and Dad to open, or a phone call at 9:36am. You won’t be there when I call to tell you about the new country song I heard on the radio, what my friends are doing, or how my training is going. You won’t be there to watch me cross the finish line at my next race or to tell me how proud Daddy would have been to watch me run again. You won’t be there to laugh or to cry with, or when I need a second opinion to help see the other side of a situation, or just reassurance that I’m ok and doing the right thing. You won’t be there to help me pick out my wedding dress, watch me walk down the aisle, or to play with your grandchildren. We had so many things left to do, so many years left to spend together. There will be so many times that I’m going to say, “I wish Mom was here”.
There is no doubt about it Mom, I’m scared. I’m scared of you not being here, of being alone. I’m scared of what it will be like to not hear your voice again and to not see you. But in spite of my fears, I know that I’m going to be ok. You raised me to be strong, and independent, and to always follow my dreams, wherever they may take me. I know that you and Dad will be cheering me on and watching me every step of the way. You will always be the strongest woman I know. The one I’ve looked up to, the one I hope to one day emulate. Say hi to Daddy for me and know that I will always, always love you.
I never thought I would be writing this, at least not right now. Every little girl thinks her dad will live forever and I just didn’t think I would lose you this soon. No words can express how I’m feeling and you’ll never know how much you mean to me and how much you’ll be missed.
You’ve always taught me to not worry about what you can’t control and to learn from a bad situation. So as sad and angry as I might feel because you were taken so young, a smile comes to my face when I think about how much you have taught me, the great memories, and how many lives you have touched.
Many go through life, have a family, and sometimes have an impact on one or two lives. But look at you. Look at how many people you have touched and how many kids you have influenced to do things they never thought they could. I’m so proud of you!
Daddy, although you might not have achieved everything you wanted, you still had an amazing life. You were an outstanding athlete in high school and married a fantastic and strong woman. You brought a kid into this world and brought her up to be the person I am today. You were the first man to ever hold and love me and the only man who would never break my heart. You were right there when I needed a hug or needed someone to tell me that things would get better. You showed me right and wrong, but let me make my fair share of mistakes. You comforted me when I was in pain. You never fell asleep until I was safely home. You took the time to be a coach for my teams and you rarely missed a meet or game. You always knew what to say after, whether I wanted to hear it or not. You taught me how to shoot for my goals, to never give up, to never give anything less than my best, that you’re only as strong as your weakest point and to always walk away with my head up.
I won’t wake up this Christmas morning and open my new calendar and I won’t be able to open my email and see the newest, coolest, and funniest Hoops and Yo-Yo e-card. When I hit 5 on my speed dial to talk to you after a test or just in general , you won’t be there.
I want you to know that as much as you and mom might think I never listen to you, I really do. I also know how important it was to you for me to finish college and I won’t let you down.
Most importantly, you’ve shown me how to love and the importance of family. You’ve always put mom and me first and always did what you thought was best for us. You are the strongest man I know. No matter how many men come into my life, you will always be my number one. I’ll always be your little squirt and will always, always love you.