I can't stress how much I miss you every day but my faith that you're watching and smiling gives me some relief. You raised me well and I couldn't have asked for more.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on February 11, 2020. It has since been updated.
It hurts to know that you aren't by my side anymore. All those memories we made together, the ones where we would sneak off for some forbidden ice-cream only to have mom yell at both of us. Or those times you took me to my favorite park or for my favorite movie. I realize now that you barely had any time for yourself and must've been exhausted. Yet, you never hesitated to spend an afternoon with me at the zoo. Looking back, you showed me what true love was even before I knew it existed.
I remember that time you scared my prom date witless, so much so that he dropped me home at dot 10. I remember the time mom told us to clear the garage and instead we ended up making even more of a mess. I remember that time you laughed incessantly at me when I split my jeans while I was running. Those memories make me smile.
Of course, we didn't always see eye-to-eye. We've had our arguments, ones that kept us from talking for some time. Whether it was about my clothes, my choice of partners or certain decisions in my life, we had our own perspectives and we were a bit too stubborn to be the first one to give in. After all, I was your daughter and I learned from the best. But if I had known that our time together was going to be cut short, I wouldn't have argued so much. However, I think those intense discussions made our relationship stronger. Because somehow, we always made up.
At the end of the day, I wanted you to be a part of my achievements, my joys, my life. I didn't want you to know my problems because I didn't want you to be sad too but somehow you always knew when I needed comfort. You wouldn't openly show it, yet those little notes, cracking open a beer together, or just sitting with me was an indication that you understood and just wanted me to be happy. You did occasionally poke your nose in where it wasn't needed but in a way, no matter how much I rebelled against it, I secretly liked it. And I never wanted to admit that to you.
Then one day, you were gone. It wasn't sudden, sure. You'd been battling the cancer that was destroying you for years. And how bravely you were holding on. You may never have admitted it, but I know that you were holding on because you didn't want to let mom and me go. But the pain got too much for you to bear, and I still remember the day you breathed your last, you held my hand with your frail one and looked at me with love, telling me how proud you are of me, and that you'll always be watching over me.
I remember how lost I felt. Like my soul had been shredded. All those times I fought your authority or said some mean things meant nothing anymore. I wanted you back to hold me like you did when I was a kid. I wanted you to argue with me again. I wanted to tell you everything that was happening in my life, even if I knew you didn't approve of it. I just wanted you back. I wanted to tell you how much I loved you and how proud of you I was. I wanted to hug you tight and hold your hand as you cuddled with me. I wanted to thank you for teaching me how to live by letting me see how you did it.
It took a long time for me to recover. And as time passed, though the grief and hole in my heart never really healed, the intense pain has faded away and been replaced with the warm glow of love and gratitude for all the good times. There were moments a certain scent or a picture would send me down a devastating spiral but I rationalized it and said to myself that you wouldn't have wanted me to suffer this way. I tried to let mom and everyone else help me heal the way I healed them by being strong for everyone. It was tough but I managed. I wanted my own children to know the same love you showed me and for them to remember their grandpa.
Unbeknownst to me, at some point, I started to believe that though you were no longer with us, you were up there, looking down and smiling at me. I try to do my best by you every day and I know that you're happy to see me. I have faith that we still share my joys and pride together, even if you're not here physically. There will only ever be one of you for me and every day, I am grateful that you were my dad. I love you.
Disclaimer: This article is based on insights from different sources. The views expressed here are those of the writer.