For the last three years, your birthday has fallen on a day where I cannot celebrate with you. Usually, it's because I am away at college, but this year I am living thousands of miles away in Florence--with a six-hour time difference.
Each year, I wish I could be there to celebrate your birthday with you. Instead, I give you one of my infamous phone calls--the ones where I sound pretty monotone and speak in short sentences--you know, the ones you always make fun of me for.
I don't know why, but talking on the phone and in person just doesn't do me justice. I think that's why I'm an English major: it's easier for me to express my feelings and thoughts through written words rather than spoken words.
I think a big part of that comes from you. You have always been the one who loved my creative side and always encouraged me to follow the arts. For a long time, I never considered myself creative enough to even consider the arts a career; I thought I needed something that was more logical, like the sciences.
But with your words of encouragement and your never-ending support for my love of writing, reading, and dancing, I decided to make the scary leap into the world of English writing and literature--and it has been the best decision I have made in my life thus far.
So since it's your birthday, and you have undoubtedly led me to where I am in life and as a person today, I decided to put the skills I have learned to use and write all of the reasons I love you in this article, since I clearly am incapable of doing so over the phone.
I love you because you are strong. I have rarely ever seen you shed a tear (although I hope this article changes that) and that's because you want to be strong for your family. Seeing you remain strong despite adversity has inspired me to do the same and to know that things will be brighter soon, especially with you by my side.
I love you because you know how to make me laugh, no matter if I'm feeling happy, sad or angry. You somehow know that the real me is always somewhere underneath the anger or sadness and you always know how to rescue me and pull me back up to shore.
I love you because you always want what's best for me. You encourage me to do the once-in-a-lifetime things, like coming to Florence, and to always say yes to adventure. I know I only have one life to live to the fullest, and you have shown me how to make the most of it.
I love you because you always try to put me first. I remember when I was little and I would ask why your socks had holes in them. You said it was so I could have nice clothes instead. I didn't necessarily understand the amount of love in that statement when I was little, but I do now and I love you for that.
I love you once again for your encouragement of the arts. Having the freedom to choose my own path in my life is a blessing that many aren't as fortunate to have, and having your support in my creative career path is one of the best gifts I have ever received.
Not only that, but I love you for the one thing we have in common (despite our many differences): our love for writing. I remember this past Christmas when I gave you a journal to write your stories and thoughts in and that was one of the only times I've ever seen you cry (besides during the movie "Rudy" and, of course, or at least I hope, while reading this article). It made my heart warm knowing that in the same way you have helped me to grow my passion for writing, I can still help to grow yours as an adult.
Most of all, I love you for the little things. For the times where we just sit on the couch and laugh until our stomachs hurt during "Modern Family" hour. For the times where you make french toast for Sunday breakfast and a smorgasbord of Italian food to celebrate my new Italian adventure. For your warm bear hugs before bed. For all of the silly emojis you send me that I say annoy me, but I really love them. I love you for all of that.
And even though I don't run to the door anymore when you come home like I used to when I was little, I still love you just the same, if not more.
So Dad, this is my gift to you on your special birthday: all of the words I have never truly said to you. I hope now that you know that I love you no matter what and I always will--even if I don't say it enough. I also hope you never question my love for you; just know that I will always be your little girl.
Happy birthday, Dad. I love you forever and always--even from 4,104 miles away.