To My Dad Two Years After You Passed Away, You Would Be So Proud Of Me

To My Dad Two Years After You Passed Away, You Would Be So Proud Of Me

730 days too long.
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Today marks the two-year anniversary that my dad passed away. Things have been hard, there have been ups and downs, but here we are. Today, tomorrow, and the next day, I will always be upset about the situation, and upset that I lost one of the best people in my life. This just about wrenched out my heart, but it made me think of all the great memories we had together. Here's a little something to make up for some lost time.


Dad,

It's been two years since we heard the news. I remember the day so clearly still, and some days I cry because it still feels fresh. My heart still hurts, and I miss you more than ever. But, what I can say, is life is going okay.

You would be proud of me, and our family.

Mom is doing well, Allegra is abroad and still taking photos, and Gabby is grinding on architecture, working hard on cool projects. Grandma is well, peppy for the most part. We are all closer than ever, we all get along very well. Not that we didn’t before, but we are really strong together.

Life isn’t the same, at all. We have adjusted to changes, and have grown stronger because of it.

I’m really happy. I have a great group of friends, summer is in just a few weeks, I have a killer job, and the sun is starting to come out, even though snow sometimes sneaks into the weather forecast.

My headspace is clear. My mind is positive, and I focus on loving every aspect of life. I have realized that it is so much harder to be mad and think negatively than think happy, and have a positive mindset. This is something you taught me but didn’t really kick in until about a year ago.

I go to the gym a lot now. More than I ever did when you were here, but I do it for myself now. My personal best was running nine miles, something I would have never dreamed of years ago. I don't play tennis too often anymore, I wish you were around because we had our matching tennis rackets.

I wake up some days thinking that you are still here, hoping to be one phone call away to tell you about the wild night I had, or boy problems that you might understand and comprehend, or a cool job opportunity that I was just offered. It’s so hard without you, and I wish I could tell you everything.

I went to prom. It was a blast. I went with Boston. The boys had a baseball game that same night, and so we took photos before their game, watched the game, had an impromptu pizza dinner, and then went to prom and danced as hard as we could. It was a night to remember.

You were right about loving college.

School is good. So good. It is everything I ever wanted. Committing to Washington State in the airport that one day with you and mom was exactly what I wanted to do, and was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I thrive here. I've met my favorite people, my classes are great, and the football games are some of the best things I have ever experienced. I go home every dads weekend, it's too hard without you, but I know we would have had a blast. I have to be honest, sometimes I want to drop out, and say I could do fine without a degree, but then I think back to everything you wanted, and everything I want in my future, and realize I could never. I love school, and I have found what I am good at.

I joined a sorority last year, my second semester. It was another great decision I made for myself. I love it so much. I have met some of the best people I could imagine, and its made college so much more do-able. I have a leadership position. I am our Vice President of Public Relations (VPPR) and it's what I am good at. I love my position and it's given me a better perspective, and leadership skills I need for my future. I live in the house, and this house has become a home.

I gave back, and my heart was full.

I know you hated social media, but I am actually very good at using it and marketing for others. Anyways, I raised over $200,000 for St. Jude this past holiday season. It was super special. I got to talk to Michael Strayhan and Robin Roberts on Good Morning America; I wish I could have told you what it was like. Breathtaking. But I know this is something that you would have loved me doing. You might have said, “Danni, what the heck were you thinking?” but as you know, and as you taught me, I follow through, and put my best work forward.

Mom and I tried to do what we used to do.

Mom and I tried going to a Seahawks game. It was fun but weird. We didn’t get our Beecher's mac n’ cheese like we always do or the halftime snacks. I remember those games that would be pouring down rain, we would be completely soaked by the time we were in our seats, freezing cold. I miss that. You would do your hawk dance as we went to our seats, watching people laugh and have their faces decked out in the green and blue paint. We lost some of our favorite players – Richard Sherman was a real bummer. I got to meet Jermaine Kearse though at the golf course one day I was working, that was awesome. It was one of those days I wish I could have told you about. A few days ago, mom sent me a photo of her with a couple of the Hawks, and I wish so badly you could have been there with her.

For my spring break this year, Mom and I went back to Hawaii. Same thing, great, but weird without you. We stayed somewhere different this time, which was nice. I think you would have really liked it. Good food, nice beaches, and sunshine, with a splash of adventure. It made me think of all the family trips we took and we would ride on your back when you were pretending to be a turtle and we would yell, "surfin' USA". We brought your ashes with us, leaving a little piece of you in Hawaii. Everything about that trip made me want to go back, wishing you could be there with us.

This summer, like last summer, I’m going to be working at Newcastle golf course and for Issaquah Parks and Recreation, kindercamp. People up there knew you or had heard your name before. Last year, when the sun was rising or going down, I always knew that you were looking over me, almost being re-assured that there was a new day ahead or the day was beginning, and that life was so beautiful.

Michael is doing really well. He is still one of my best friends to this day, even though we don't talk too much anymore. He is doing everything he wanted to do, is going to college, and is running his own successful business. Dad, you would be so proud of him.

I still think about my wedding.

Don’t worry, no guys yet. How I would love for you to have walked me down the aisle. I know everything I want to happen and play it out perfectly. You always knew my wedding I was planning was going to be killer. We got time, and I won’t let you down.

A lot has happened in the past two years. I know I am missing so much that I wish I could call you up and tell you about, but in short, this is what you have missed. You are what I have missed.

I miss you more and more each day. I will always put my best foot forward, and try to make you proud even if you aren't here to guide me along. I didn't exactly see it when you were here, but we are so very similar. I carry your heart in mine when I am with people, and I carry your mind in mine when I make decisions. It's those super beautiful moments in life now, I wish I could share with you, but I know that you see them with me. Its those super wonderful people that I meet now, I wish I could introduce you to, but I know that you already know them. I love you dad.

Can't wait to see you again one day.

With love,

Danni

Cover Image Credit: Madonna Messina

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A Thank You To My Boyfriend's Family

Because you are so important to him, you are important to me.
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This one isn't easy to sit down and write because nothing I could say would do all of you justice in the way that I would hope I could. These are just words, but I hope that I am able to always show my thank you to you by treating him like the prince he is.

I can replay the moment of meeting each and every one of you all over and over in my head like it was yesterday. I was so extremely nervous every single time and I was trying to gather all the "right" things to say that would leave a good, first-lasting impression and that at the end of the day, you all would like me.

I think one of the most important basis and hopes in my relationship is that my significant other's family likes who I am. This is so important to me because whatever is important to him is equally important to me and your thoughts of me are crucial to our relationship.

The second I walked in the door, I was overwhelmed—overwhelmed with such a love. I had no idea at that point in time just how much you would all mean to me and how thankful I am for all of you!

Thank you for constantly making me laugh and feel at home.

Whenever I'm coming over for a family gathering or just to hang out, I know right off that I am walking into a world of laughter and good times are right beside that. You are all so entertaining and always have a good story to tell me. I can't name one time where I didn't feel like I was home.

And I appreciate the sweet, embarrassing photos and stories about my boyfriend that you all share with me! Even if it is by a photo, I have a glimpse of what his life has always been like thanks to each and every one of you individually.

Thank you for sharing your special moments in life with me.

You don't ever have to, but you invite me anyway. Whether it's just a family gathering, a birthday, or a holiday, I am thankful to have spent those times celebrating these moments in life alongside such amazing people. It's humbling and heartwarming to be a part of memories so unforgettable that you all share and that you have welcomed me to be a part of. They are days that I will never forget and have a place in my heart forever.

Thank you for always being there for him.

Since we have started dating, I have watched the way that you guys love him. I have watched the individual relationships and moments that you share with him make a difference in who he is. I have seen you all love and support him, no matter what he was doing.

With everything that comes along in life, this has been a simple reminder of an unconditional, loving, sacrificing family that is also the best support system. You are not only impacting him, but me, too.

Thank you for welcoming me in like your own.

Whenever you have to brave up and meet your significant other's family, I can say, for myself, that I didn't know what to expect. As I'm sure, none of you did when meeting me. Today, I catch myself wondering why I even worried in the first place. You all have welcomed me in your own ways and made me feel right at home. It is not always easy to do that with just anyone, but you have all taken the time to get to know me. And now I know that if I ever needed anything, I can call one of you.

Thank you for letting me date him.

I am most thankful for this. Thank you for sharing him with me and giving me a chance to show you all how important he is to me. I never thought that I would luck out and meet someone as special, kind, and wonderful as he is, but I did.

You have supported our relationship, given me a chance to love him, and welcomed me to new adventures in love and family. I have the upmost gratitude for each of you. You are the most wonderful, welcoming, and loving family. I am overjoyed to be able to experience just a glimpse of this life with him and with all of you.

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I Love My Parents For Making Me Hate Them

If you've never disliked your parents, they're doing something wrong.

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I did not have the "cool" parents growing up. I was not allowed to go to parties, drink, hang out with bad influences, eat sugary breakfast cereal and Gushers, or date guys who my parents thought were too old for me. I looked around at all of my friends getting permission to do pretty much anything they wanted and filled with jealousy and curiosity as to why that wasn't my life.

A very common conversation in my household:



"But *insert friend's name here*'s parents let them!"

"I'm not *insert same friend's name here*'s parents."


At the time, I felt like my parents were suffocating me and not allowing me to make the mistakes I needed to make to develop as a person. Little did I know, the parenting I had was the absolute best parenting I could possibly have had. Looking back, I'm thankful for all of the rules, punishments, fights, and boundaries, because it did shape who I am as a person and a future parent.

That being said, to those who think their parents are too strict: trust the system. Rules are regulations are crucial for teaching valuable life lessons, regardless of how frustrating it may seem at the time. I cannot express in words how sheltered I felt growing up compared to a lot of my peers, but I now understand the parenting style and hope to apply this same guidance to my future family.

My favorite way to describe the parenting style I had growing up would be by comparing it to a retractable dog leash. My parents always let me explore my boundaries and make mistakes to learn from them, but pulled my back when I put myself or others in danger. They knew the lessons I needed to learn through trial and error, and there were always consequences when I did things that they knew I shouldn't. Getting punished insured that I would repeat mistakes, but also created the necessary separation between friend and parent.

Eventually, it would disappoint me to disappoint my parents, and that guilt was almost punishment enough to prevent me from doing anything I shouldn't. Sometimes I did feel like I was missing out on a lot of the things my peers were able to do. At the same time, however, I knew it was for the best and that my parents had my best interest at heart. When I did act as a regular rebellious teenager, my parents always were on my team and made sure I felt loved and cared for even when they needed to punish me.

Now that I'm older and have established right from wrong on my own, my relationship with my parents is something that others envy. We can joke around and act as best friends, but I also know that if I needed it, my parents would always be there to help me with life's hardest problems and decisions. The fights we had when I was younger and the teenage attitude is now something we can look back and laugh about.

Using my parents as models, I now know how I would one day like to raise my own children. Obviously, all kids are different and there are some things I would change. However, I know that if my children never hate me, I would not be doing my job correctly. I appreciate all of the times I felt like I was restricted and couldn't be who I wanted to be because now I realize that my parents were shaping me into the best person I could possibly be, and that's what I wish I would have wanted all along.

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