After 3 Years

Hey Dad,

Today marks 3 years since you went on to the next adventure. It’s crazy because it doesn’t feel anywhere near that long, but it also feels like it’s been forever.

I finally started reading your memoirs and journals and looking through your photo albums. It’s been a really interesting experience because I’ve learned a lot about you that I never knew. I learned that you smiled a lot in college, a big cheesy grin that just exudes youth and troublemaking. I learned about your childhood, and the things that made it special (and sometimes terrible) for you. I learned why you loved Canastota so much, and what you left behind. I learned that you once wanted to be a writer, a dream that I share with you, and that you had a real talent for storytelling. I learned that you were a far better person than I ever gave you credit for.

My regret is that I didn’t learn these things while you were still here to talk about them. Some of the photos depict people whose names I’ll never know, some of the stories you wrote are left unfinished. You kept to yourself, and I always assumed that was because you didn’t want to talk… but maybe it was just because I never asked. Every day that goes by I wish I had. I wish I had been more aware of you as not just a dad with dad responsibilities, but as a human being with thoughts and emotions and memories. I wish I asked who your best friend was when you lived on Lester Street, or what your freshman roommate was like in college, or when your record collection officially started. I wish I had reached out and closed some of the distance.

We were never one of those families that is overly mushy with each other, or really mushy at all. I think we’re all kind of awkward with that stuff to some degree. We knew we loved each other and never felt the need to say it. But I think we’ve all gotten a little bit better with that since we lost you. I wish I had known sooner what I know now about valuing the people you have in your life while you have them, and I wish I had told you how important you were to me every day. There’s a bit of a song called Dad that goes:

I never told you how
How much you mean to me
What in the world I would do
I just never made it through to you
There goes a day, there goes a week
So many goals I had to reach
The more I did, the less I cared
The more I miss the love you shared

I can’t listen to it without crying because it describes exactly how I feel. I was doing my thing, and just missed out. I guess we tend to take the people we love for granted, and then suddenly, they’re gone. You’re gone.

I wish I had the chance to fix all of the things that were wrong and ease all of my regrets. I wish I had asked more questions and shown more care. But I didn’t. And I can’t. So now I just have to live with that. Try to go forward and do better, be better.

This is where I would put the great epiphany/life lesson I have to share and end on a positive note, tied in a neat little bow. But unfortunately, I don’t really have one of those. I can’t say I’ve resolved all of my issues, because I haven’t. Even though you would forgive if I could ask you, I haven’t forgiven myself for a lot of my mistakes, and I don’t know when I’ll find the strength to do that. But I am okay with admitting that I’m still working on it. I’m working on all of it. I just hope you’d be proud of me.

I miss you, and I love you.

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