Today I missed you more than usual, but I guess I’ll have days like that forever. It’s been hard. I want nothing more than to call you and hear your voice, or to text you and actually get a reply. I saved some of your voicemails and I made a photo album on my phone so I’ll always have you with me.
It’s hard to believe this is real. Even now, it’s been almost two weeks and I’m still in denial. When I first found out you had passed away, it was hard to think of you in terms of past-tense. Every time I talk about you and have to say, “My dad did” or “My dad was” or “My dad liked”, my throat tightens just a little bit.
It kills me that I can’t pinpoint the last conversation we shared. It kills me that I can’t remember the last sunset we watched together. It kills me that I can’t remember the last place we went together, or the last laugh we shared together, or the last dinner we ate together. You and I had a different sort of father-child relationship, and I’m thankful for that. Even though you and Mom were divorced and didn’t live together, I liked having a home away from home. And your home is a lot more exciting than where we live currently. Your home was a lot more exciting.
For a long time in my life, I hated going to Long Beach Island, which was your heart and home - and eventually became mine, too. I didn’t want to be pulled away from my friends every other weekend, and in the winter there was nothing really to do. As I got older, my feelings regarding the island changed completely. Now I drag my friends along on day trips to the island, and I dream of one day living there year round.
Death is such a mind-blowing concept to try to understand. From a religious standpoint, there’s Heaven and Hell, and depending on the religion, there’s Purgatory as well. From a physical standpoint, your body decays in a coffin six feet under the ground. And from the reincarnation standpoint, your soul gets reborn into a different body. I haven’t sorted out my thoughts on this subject yet, but I’m hoping I do soon. I believe that a person’s soul doesn’t die with their body. As I have learned in just about every single science course I’ve ever taken, energy can’t be created or destroyed (thanks, Conservation of Energy). I don’t know if I believe that there’s a definite Heaven, and I don’t know if I believe you were reincarnated as soon as you were pronounced dead, but I know your soul and spirit are still somewhere. I just haven’t figured out what I want to believe that somewhere is.
Dad, I’m so scared I’m going to lose memories of you over time. I’m even more scared for Raymond, who is two and a half years younger than me. I know he misses you tremendously. It hurts to think you won’t be crying happy tears at my graduation, and it hurts to think about who’s going to walk me down the aisle one day. I know it’s hard to forget someone who gave you so much to remember, but over time memories fade and get blurry. I don’t want that to happen with you.
I’m going to be honest, I didn’t think I was going to cry that much at your funeral. I felt all cried out. However, when I first saw your casket, I completely lost it. It was the most beautiful casket I’ve ever seen, and unfortunately I’ve been to quite a few funerals. It was a shiny, periwinkle-bluish color, and it was the perfect casket for you. I like to think you would’ve been content with it.
When they wheeled you towards the hearse, I could physically feel my heart breaking. My body hurt from the emotional pain. Even though your body was in the casket during the service, I felt close to you, like you were right next to me. When they wheeled you away and towards the hearse at the end, I really felt my world crashing down around me. With every second they pulled you away, I felt your death finally sinking in. I don’t think I’ll ever forget when they took you away from me.
You never realize how much there is to a person until they’re gone. The first day I found out about your passing, I heard your favorite song and started crying in the middle of McDonald’s (your favorite). You would’ve teased me so much if you could hear this. The strangest little things make me think about you, like eating sushi and MarioKart and big white trucks.
Sunsets haven’t been the same without you. You and I (and sometimes Raymond) would always ride our bikes to Fourth street and watch the sunset over the bay. Again, when I was younger and naïve, I didn’t like going to watch the sun set. They were always the same to me; I was expecting something beautiful and spectacular-like different hues of purples and pinks and reds, but all I got was a blindingly orange orb slipping behind the horizon. What I’ve learned, though, is that what was beautiful about these sunsets was the thought of a day coming to end and the idea of new beginnings in the morning. Even on the days I wasn’t there to go with you I know you went; you were devoted to sunsets like it was a religion. I hope the sunsets are just as beautiful wherever you are now.
I was scared I was going to lose my love for Long Beach Island when I lost you. I was worried it would be too hard to go back, and go to all the places where I can still see you so perfectly in my mind. The day of your funeral, I went with four of my closest friends to all of your favorite places on the island. We watched the sunset from Fourth Street, and I finally got that spectacular sunset I was searching for. Purples and pinks and reds saturated the entire sky. In a way, I feel like you’ve always known that’s the sunset I had hoped for every time we got on our bikes and went to Fourth Street, like you painted that sunset for me. I tried not to think about how much I wished you were there.
Nobody I know understands the shattered heart that comes from a little girl losing her Dad, and in a way, I’m thankful for that. I wouldn’t wish this heartbreak on anybody. While the initial wound will eventually fade, the scars will last forever.
I’m thankful for the 17 years I had with you, Dad, but I wish it could’ve been 17 more. I will watch the sunset every night, the way you did, and I’ll think of you for every last one. I hope you’re at peace, wherever you are. I miss you.With all my love, B.