Dear Dad,

Time really flies. It seems like only yesterday that you were still here, in person. I'm almost eighteen now, and I can't help but thank you for what you've taught me, even if you aren't here in person to teach it to me. Even though I was forced to learn the lessons you wanted me to with a different man. But what you taught me was something that no one but you could have. You taught me how to let go and how to be myself. How to let go of that bad grade on that one test, how to let go of dead pets, how to let go of the mean words that can sometimes feel like a thousand knives, how to let go of you.

The first thing you taught me wasn't a lesson that I should have learned as early as I did but I'm thankful that the terrible thing that happened to you could teach me something other than grieving. You taught me how I could let go of the bad, negative things holding me back. In freshman year, I went through a series of depressions for about five months. My sadness about your death made me want to join you because it felt as if I couldn't live on Earth and be happy. But it was all you who taught me that it was time to let go, that I couldn't change anything that had happened to you, but that I could change what was going to happen to me.

By your death, you taught me how to let go of everything bothering me. I will never let go of you, but I had to let go of the sadness attached to you. No one could have taught me that better than you. So no matter if it's letting go of a comment someone said to me or if it's a pet dying, or a bad grade on a test, I think of you, in my head, telling me that it's okay to let it go. This lesson is so important and I'm thankful that you taught it to me so early because later on, the loss is still going to hurt, but already knowing and being able to let go is going to help me a lot, so thanks, dad.

You also taught me how to be myself.

After you left this world when I was five, I didn't know that meant goodbye forever. But as life went on and I got older, there was that one crashing day when I stopped wishing for you to come back, for you to be here; it was the day I knew you never could come back. So, I started channeling who I was, the little girl you left behind twelve years ago. You taught me how to "grow into my own skin", how to be myself. I missed out on many father-daughter moments, and I'm going to miss out on many more to come. When I was bullied in middle school and freshman year of high school, I thought of you pushing me through, telling me to keep going. You told me that it was them that needed to change, not me. You taught me to be me and to never change myself for anyone else.

So thank you, thank you for teaching me a life lesson that many don't learn until their thirties. You won't be there when I graduate high school, when I leave for college, to walk me down the aisle, or when I have my first kid. But it's okay. Although I'll never not miss you and never not want you here, I am thankful for the things you've taught me. I can let go now of all the things that bothered me, that I don't want to know. I can let go of you. I can let go of what happened and your death, and the path of sorrow you left taught me that. Thank you for listening, for being patient, for always watching over me. Thank you for always telling me that I can do it. Thank you for being my dad. Even if you can't fulfill the duty in person, you've already exceeded it in my heart. The ache will never go away and I'm still learning how to cope with the grief sometimes, but you taught me how to let go better than anyone. I love you forever, thank you.

With love, from your daughter.