This is your 40 year old self writing to you. I’m writing to you 3 months after Dad’s passing. In your 40 years of existence these are the darkest moments of your life. The pain can be so agonizing that you will feel it in your bones.
I’m writing to you to make sure you understand just how important family is and hope that you understand the moments that you think are the end of the world are really just stepping stones in your life.
Mom and Dad will not have their health forever. Treasure them. Appreciate your time with your family. Go to Disney with them, take the family car ride to North Carolina and spend more lazy Sunday afternoons in the pool with them. In the end these moments are what matters.
You’re going to go through an awkward preteen stage. You will hide your face with your hair, crimp your hair and “Sun In” your hair. Thanks for the damage to our hair, but I’ll write about that another time! Most of all you will be reluctant to take family photos because you think you look less than perfect. Dad’s health will deteriorate and when he dies those photos are your lifeline. Take the photos regardless of how you look! You will be embarrassed to hold Mom and Dad’s hands in public. STOP THAT. Hold their hands as tight as you can and never let go. Stop worrying what other’s think. Make tons of beautiful memories.
You will get your heart broken, but it’s not the end of the world and it’s certainly not worth all that sulking. Your first marriage will be a colossal mistake. He will kick you when you are down and his lies will cut you like a knife. Dad will tell you endlessly, “You can always come home.” Eventually you will go home. But you are going to waste time being angry, sad and disappointed. Throughout your divorce Dad will become your anchor, cherish these moments.
Eventually you will meet your soul mate, and you will get butterflies every time you see him not because you are fearful but because he shows you unconditional love and pushes you to be a better person. In the end you will realize your happiness is not the result of any man, your happiness is the result of YOU. Read these words clearly…..both Mom and Dad were right.
Dad is going to get cancer. Your entire world will stop spinning the day you find out.
During Dad’s journey try to remember that Mom is human too. Mom is going to be Dad’s caregiver, and you know her caregiving abilities are similar to Mother Theresa. She’s not going to say she’s exhausted until she’s ready to fall over. Hug her often, tell her you love her daily. During Dad’s illness your relationship with Mom will form an even stronger bond. As you watch her care for Dad you will admire her for her strength and courage. She’s not just your mother, she’s the definition of bravery and selfless love.
Dad’s cancer journey becomes your own personal crusade to restore his ability to eat. You are going to torture yourself trying to find “the one” that can help. Your will watch cancer rip him apart bit by bit. He will die unable to eat or drink. Please cherish all the family meals you have with him. By the way, try the calamari, it’s nice that Dad pays you $20 to try new foods, but stop being so picky and eat the damn food! You’re going to like it when you’re older anyway! Trust me.
Accept what is happening is God’s will and cherish the limited time you have with Dad. You will have a very difficult time with this. Being angry at God only makes this road more difficult.
Some will gossip and burn the candlestick at both ends. Be wary of the wolf in sheep clothing. It’s ok to respectfully put them in their place if they over step. No one should have free range to bash your mother. Her strict curfews, no riding in cars with boys and other rules are all out of love. She’s not being mean, she’s being a parent. Remember, you and your sister are the only people who know the sounds of Mom’s heartbeat from the inside. There is no bond greater than that of a mother and a daughter. It will take watching Dad die for you to cut this person off. Don’t waste time agonizing over the details. Like Dad always says, “Gossip is for small minded people.”
When Dad dies you will have no regrets because you listen to yourself and tell him tirelessly how much you adore him, and he will tell you with his last breath that he adores you. Accepting Dad’s mortality will be one of most difficult moments in your life. Holding his hand as he takes his last breath will shatter your heart and it will be at that moment that you will realize Dad was right all along.
Hold your head high and be proud of who you are today. You have the fairy tale father daughter relationship. You have a family who loves you. You have your health. You are strong. You are blessed.