My biological father died in May of 2012.
We had been estranged most of my life, and had recently reconnected after the birth of my son shortly before his death.
After he died, I hardly grieved.
“Why would I?”, I remember thinking. “I barely knew the man.”
And yet, there is so much about him that I want(ed) to know.
As there are countless ways in which I yearned for him to be in my life and know me too.
So almost 8 years after his passing, I allowed myself to miss him. To mourn for him and our lost time.
I created space to deeply feel the depths of my longing for his presence throughout my life.
This ache became a letter to him, which I’d like to share with you now, because there is tremendous healing available to us when we own our wants of that which we did not have,
I wanted you to be there to see me take my 1st step. To catch me with your strong arms when I stumbled and whisper “I’ve got you”
I wanted you to change my diaper, rock me until I fell asleep, burp me, coo at me, sing me lullabies at night and get up with me when I was fussy so my heart held an indelible imprint of your love for me.
I wanted you to read me bedtime stories and snuggle with me under the covers and create secret worlds we could explore together. I wanted yours to be the last face I saw before I closed my eyes at night. I wanted your voice to be the last one I heard before I drifted off to sleep, soothing me with I love yous and I’m here if you need mes.
I wanted you to be there on my first day of Kindergarten with my too big backpack dwarfing me. I wanted you to walk to meet my teacher and say with great pride ” I’m Candace’s father. You are so lucky to have her in your class” I wanted you to kiss me and tell me goodbye and how you could not wait to hear about my day.
I wanted you there for ever single dance concert, recital, and swim meet on the front row, taking pictures that you’d later hang on your fridge. I wanted you to tell me how proud you were of me and how much you loved being there.
I wanted to catch you looking at me like you could not believe how lucky you were to be my father and to feel deep in my bones that you knew I was some kind of magic.
I wanted you to gently cup my small, trusting, innocent face in your hands and tell me I was so beautiful and precious to you.
I wanted you to tell me in the midst of our mundane monopoly game that there’s nowhere else on earth you’d rather be.
I wanted you to go on vacation with me and take long walks on the beach, holding hands while we talked about nothing and everything.
I wanted you around on Christmas Eve to help me put out cookies for Santa and to watch me open my gifts on Christmas morning.
I wanted to throw my tiny arms around your neck and hold onto you for all I was worth and feel safe and home in your embrace.
I wanted to go to the Daddy- Daughter dance with you in my patent leather shoes and poofy dress. I wanted you to bring me flowers and let me dance on your feet.
I wanted you to love my mother so well that I had that model of love and tenderness forever imprinted on my DNA.
I wanted to sit down with you at the kitchen table and do my homework together.
I wanted you to meet the boys that I was dating and tell me they were not good enough for me and that I deserved far better.
I wanted you to help me move into my college dorm and get care packages from you in the mail.
I wanted you to walk me down the aisle and kiss me cheek as you gave me away.
I wanted you holding my hand and cheering me on as I gave birth to my son, I wanted to hand him to you, all wrapped up in his new born goodness, and say “Here is your grandson, poppa”
And I wanted to watch your eyes fill with tears because you were so moved by the beauty of him and me.
I wanted to visit you in the hospital before you died, to hold your hand like I wanted you to hold mine all those years, to be with you in all the ways that I wanted you to be with me, and to offer you comfort and care in all the ways I wanted you to comfort and care for me all those years.
Ultimately, I wanted to feel your love for me so deeply that I would never, not even for one second, doubt my own worth.
So Dad, after years of pretending that I did not give one fuck if you were around or not, I want you to know this:
I wanted you in the big and small parts of my life, the mundane and the extraordinary, the trivial and the earth-shattering. Every cell in my body wanted you there for the whole ride. Every nook and cranny was screaming for you. I am only sorry that I did not have the chance to tell you before you died. Maybe in some way you are hearing me now.
With such love and devotion,