I first met Mary in March, 2011 at Bloggy Boot Camp in San Diego and was instantly smitten.
Mary is lively and vibrant and gave a wonderful talk on vlogging. And then I started following her awesome vlogs on The Mama Mary Show because after all, she’s the pro and oh so funny!
If you haven’t seen her Why I Love Kristen Wigg and Should Star in Bridesmaid 2 vlog, go now. I’ll wait. But please come back, because Mary is here today sharing a bittersweet letter to her father, who has been gone for 11 years. I, like some of you can identify with this loss all too well and that’s why Mary and I will always be kindred spirits and members of the Dead Dads Club. That and the fact that I can’t listen to Lady Gaga’s Edge of Glory without thinking of her.
A lot has happened in the past eleven years since you’ve been gone. In one breath it feels like just yesterday that we were sitting in your den, watching TV and discussing plans for my wedding, but yet, it also feels like an eternity since you were a living, breathing part of my daily life.
I’ve been a lot of places and experienced some pretty remarkable things over the years, that I wish I could have shared with you, but by far my biggest accomplishment has been having my two daughters, Lily and Lexi. I see you in them, which is really comforting, yet it also breaks my heart to think you will never get to know them or they you. I talk to them about you often because I want them to know what a great man their grandfather was.
My other major accomplishment has been publishing my book, Dead Dads Club; Stories of Love, Loss, and Healing By Daughters Who Have Lost Their Dads, and launching the DeadDadsClub Web site in your honor. Part of me thinks you would be pissed as hell that I am making such a big deal out of you, but I really had to find a way to turn my grief into something positive. For that I think, I hope, you would be proud.
The one thing I know you’d be disappointed with is that I’ve only been in one play since you died, Dad. I did my last show the year after you died and it felt hopelessly empty and uncomfortable being on stage without you in the audience. Of course Mom and Steve were there and have remained incredibly supportive of me, but for some reason, I haven’t been able to bring myself to go back to performing since you’ve been gone. I know how much that would pain you to know because you would never have wanted me to give up on my dreams.
The good news is that I’m starting to get the itch to perform again. I’ve been on some auditions recently and I’m even going to be performing in a dance recital this next weekend with the girls. Part of me wonders/worries that it is silly of me to perform in a recital made up predominantly of kids and teens, but I’m looking at it as a challenge and also a baby step to getting back into the swing of things. Again, I think, hope, you would be proud.
And in other news, I just turned 40 years old. How the heck did that happen? I am now the age that you and mom were when you had me, which seemed ancient when I was a kid. Recently I found a photo of you, taken when you were around 40, and it really made me wish that my 40-year-old-self could hang out with your 40-year-old self. We would get along famously, I just know it. We would drink wine, argue about politics, and discuss books, though we couldn’t quite talk about the book I’m currently reading.
As I’ve gotten older and become a parent I have begun to appreciate you in an entirely new light. There was a time when I was growing up that I resented you for drinking so much and for working such long hours. For yelling at Mom and for treating your daughters like we were clients. But now that I am a parent, I see that you were doing the best you could do. You were doing what you knew and what you thought was right.
One of the most poignant memories I think of frequently took place one afternoon, just a week or so before you died, almost exactly eleven years ago. We were in your den and I was administering your saline IV drip. We were facing each other, practically face-to-face. I didn’t know how much more time I had with you so I decided to take that intimate moment to tell you everything I wanted to say. I told you that I loved you. I thanked you for being such a great dad.
“You’ve supported me in everything I’ve wanted to do, allowed me to travel and to find out who I am.”
You replied with, “Well it seemed like the right thing to do at the time.”
“I am going to miss you, Dad.”
“I’m going to miss you too, babe.”
I fought back my tears because you always hated to see me cry, but as soon as your IV drip was in place, I excused myself from the room and wept like a baby. I knew that was going to be one of the last moments I would have with you, and it was.
I think back to that time and wonder if I said enough. Was I fervent enough in my love or grateful enough in my thanks? Did you truly know how much I loved you?
I guess that’s why I’m writing this now. I want to make sure, all of these years later, that you know how much I love and miss you.
I’m going to assume that yes, you know. I’m also assuming that you’re having a helluva good time, wherever you are, with your old buddies like Newman, Jack and Harry. I hope you’re hanging out with your daughter/my sister, Marci, who left us to join you way too soon. And I hope you’re looking down with the same pride you used to beam with from the theater seats.
I’m smiling back, blowing kisses and missing you to pieces.
Love, as always,