Dear Dad,

My dad passed away in February 2017, but there are times when it feels like he left us a short time ago. After he passed, I felt him nearby, as if he was making sure that we were going to be okay. Over time, that feeling has faded as I’ve gotten wrapped up in everyday life. It’s true that the loss of the people we love leaves a hole in our hearts. That empty space will always be there. And yet, life keeps moving forward. New people come into our lives, we laugh and love and learn to keep going and that hole seems less painful then it did before.

For me, the exceptions are Father’s Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas and my dad’s birthday. Each of those holidays brings back vivid memories of the time that I was able to share with him. We’d often try getting together for dinner on Father’s Day because my dad loved to eat. Barring that, I would always send him a card. In retrospect, I was terrible about getting the cards to him in a timely fashion. Sometimes, I wouldn’t get a card to him until many days after Father’s Day. I wish that I could send him a card in Heaven, because I know that’s where he is. These are the things I would say:

Dear Pop,

You wouldn’t believe how many animals I have in my house right now. After taking in a pregnant momma cat, I’ve got a total of nine cats kicking around my house. It’s a constant battle to keep the house clean, but I always have plenty of kitty cat loving whenever I want it. I’m also considering powering my house with the biofuel that they produce on a daily basis.

My pugs, Nifty and Ramses, are doing well. They spend their days on the couch and now that warmer weather is here, I take them walking in the fields behind the dog park where they can sniff things and pee on anything sticking up from the ground. There’s something about walking through the beauty of nature that relaxes my soul. All of my troubles fade and I feel like I’m living in a moment rather than worrying about the future. I know that you worried a lot about everything and I seem to have inherited that trait.

Jason and I sold your house in November to a family with three little kids. I drove by there the other day and the place feels right again. I will always associate my first home with all of the love that I felt there. It’s good to see that love continue and flourish.

I’ve been going to graduate school to get my Master’s degree in cybersecurity. It scares me to death just thinking about the thesis that I’ll have to write in order to graduate, but I’m taking it one step at a time. Remarkably, I’m getting through it and learning a great deal. What surprises me the most is that the lessons are more about my capacity for learning and schedule coordination than they are about the material.

I’ve been struggling to balance my life between work and play. It’s important to have equal amounts of both because focusing on one or the other tends to cause issues in the long run. It’s a lesson that I learned from you. When I was little, you were often gone on work trips and I didn’t always understand. Now I know that you were doing everything you could to provide a wonderful life for all of us. I appreciate all of your sacrifices, but I also enjoyed the relaxed time I was able to spend with you. Happiness isn’t about money or things, it’s about holding a hand, hugging or kissing because that is the purest expression of love.

You’d be happy to know that I opened the pool by myself this year. Remember that first year we opened it? That thing was in terrible shape and the setup was completely screwy because the former owner had jerry-rigged everything. I was terrified that I’d screw something up, but it was a lot easier than I thought it would be. I had to phone a good friend for some advice when I wasn’t sure what to do next, but thankfully, he got me through it. I’ve been blessed to have people in my life who are there when I need them. That’s something that you don’t have to worry about.

Your granddaughter, Rhiannon, is doing well in Colorado. She made it through Basic and AIT and is stationed in Fort Carson. I was able to visit her in May and you would have been blown away by the beauty there. I worry about my little girl, but she often shows me that she is going to be okay. The child has tremendous heart and incredible passion for anything she wants to do. She will always accomplish whatever she sets her mind to.

At the end of May, I rappelled down the side of the Kodak tower in Rochester. It’s probably good that you weren’t around for that, because I can imagine you would have been a nervous wreck. Lord knows, I was completely terrified, but I did it anyway. It made me realize that I really do have the power to do anything that I decide to do. It’s quite easy to say that, but to actually accomplish something that you didn’t think you could do is incredibly exhilarating. I was so jazzed that I drove home and mowed my monstrous lawn.

I’ve learned so many things and have tried to incorporate those lessons into my daily life. I’ve met someone who may be a keeper. It’s too early to tell where the relationship will go, but he makes me happy and feel loved. Our time is so very short, that it’s better to live with a grateful, loving heart than focus upon what we’ve lost. I thank God that you were my dad. You gave me love, wisdom, happiness, support and strength. The list goes on and on. I love you and will miss you always.

Happy Father’s Day!

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