First Letter That Started It All

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Some people have been asking me to post the first letter that I wrote to my dad and which started this thought process of publishing others’ letters to their parents with the hopes that they will bring comfort and joy to those reading them.  It’s an appropriate day to post this because, after all, aren’t fathers most daughters’ first Valentine?  Here’s the letter, warts and all:

Hi, Dad—

It’s late, for me anyway.  I can’t sleep because I’m thinking about coming up to Colorado to see you and Mom.  Until a little while I was looking forward to it.  But I just realized that I’ll have to say goodbye and I’m not sure how to do that.  I always cry when I leave you guys, but this time will be hard—obviously.  I’m not sure how to do it.  Do I hug you quick and leave?  Do I hug you and never let go?  I can never let go in my heart.

I know I’ve told you all that you mean to me.  I have so many wonderful memories; they all just keep flooding in:

Memories of us fishing and you telling me to think like a fish.  I always felt so secure when we went camping because I knew how capable you are and I knew you’d take care of us.

How I loved you for saying to Mom and Steve to have patience with me hiking because my legs were shorter and I had to “walk twice as far” as they did.

The bazillion times we went cross-country skiing, but the one time  (at Breckenridge?) when we came back by moonlight because we were out so far.

You “whispering” so loudly in my ear, but telling me how to be a better kid when I wasn’t getting along with Mom.

Giving me a “daddy spanking” but I could see you were kind of laughing because I was on my back, deflecting your spankings with my feet.

Riding horses with you and, one time when the owl swooped right in front of us so silently.  And our discussions about how we were aware of our own shortcomings but how we each tried to see that that awareness was, in fact, a help.

I will always value our discussions.  I will continue to have them with you, I know.  And I hope, I know, that if I sit very still, I will hear you in my heart.

When others lost their parents, I’m ashamed to say I didn’t understand until now how terribly hard that is.  I thought, “They don’t live with their parents anymore.  They have their own families.  That parent has certainly lost the closeness, the importance they once held.”  How very wrong I was.  I value you—and Mom, don’t forget Mom!—more and more as I am facing the different challenges in life that you once faced.  We may be far in distance, but not in love.

Tomorrow is Shadow A Student day at school.  I will be following Jennifer around during the school day.  Sometimes, when Jennifer leaves in the morning for school, I sit in the living room and watch her walk down the street as she starts her day.  She doesn’t know I’m watching, but I’m sending her good vibes and love.  I think that is kind of what God does for us:  watches us and sends us good vibes all the time, while we don’t even know it.  I think when you leave us here, you will become a bigger part of God and I know you will watch over me and my family and love us—even if we don’t know it.  I like thinking that.

I hear the high school marching band practicing.  I like to hear it.  There have been marching bands around for ages, and they’ve probably all sounded just like this one.  The sound of the band is comforting that things don’t really change a whole lot.  It’s a reminder that life continues and there are others just starting their time here.

I will say goodnight.  Writing this has helped me.
I haven’t said nearly everything I want to.  But I don’t know how to get it all out.  I know you know that I love you.  And that helps.

I love you, Dad.  So very, very much.  The words are so simple, but they mean so much.

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