A Letter to My Terminally Ill Dad – I Love You
It’s been a long few months. My father has been in and out of hospitals and rehabs since early 2017. We finally learned why a few months ago. He has cirrhosis of the liver. It has now progressed to the “terminal” stage. I immediately offered to be tested to be a live liver transplant donor for him, but he was denied the chance to even be a recipient because of his heart history. 7 heart attacks, 28 stents and an open heart surgery to be exact. He often joked to make light of a scary situation every time he had to have a heart cath done that he was trying to make the Guinness Book of World Records for the most heart stents. We looked it up together. The record holder is Emil Lohen with a total number of 34 heart stents. Daddy was close.
I honestly thought it would be his heart. I never expected to be sitting here next to his hospital bed for the last three weeks wondering if today would be the last time I saw him. Most days I held it together and appeared strong, just as he always did, for my Mom and family. But this morning when I saw him, I broke down. I couldn’t help it. I had such a heavy weight on my chest that I couldn’t breathe. Writing has always been my way to release stress and express myself, so I wrote this for Daddy tonight and prayed I would have the chance to read it to him in the morning…
UPDATE: I was able to read this to Daddy with my Mom, husband and kids by my side. It was emotional, but Daddy was alert enough to understand my words. He said it was beautiful.
I should have told you how I felt all along, way before now.. but I pray that I have been able to show you all this, even though the words weren’t spoken yet.
I appreciate and acknowledge all the struggles and dedication it took for you to give us the wonderful life you did. Even working three jobs, you were at our school functions, softball games and traveling with my choir group so you could help me with my asthma. You always made time for family. I can remember visiting you several times at the fire department and I was so proud of you and told everyone I could when “My Dad was on Rescue911”. I have always felt the immense love you showered upon us.
There’s fun, quirky little things you shared during my childhood that I now share with our kids. Like when its raining outside and we drive under a bridge. I tell the kids “Okay, I’m going to turn the rain off for a minute” then we drive under the bridge and watch the rain come down around us. Everytime we drive thru a tunnel, we honk like crazy — it always makes me think of you. And most times when I’m asked a question that requires a numeric answer, I usually answer “432” because that’s the answer you always gave us. And when Elsie makes her first attempt at cooking, I will happily taste test and attempt to digest it like you did when I made mac n’ cheese soup, because I forgot to drain the water.
There’s so many memories that I hold close to my heart with you, but my most cherished is having you walk me down the aisle. Thank you for trusting Rob with me. I promise you have nothing to worry about. Rob is going to take care of me, the kids and Mom – just like you did. He is such an incredible man and a lot of his values remind me of the core values you have taught us growing up.
It’s all these little things that make us, and everyone we know, love you. But its also the big things – like your love for Mom. The two of you together is a fairytale I love to share. You were literally her knight in shining armor. Except in your fairytale, your armor consisted of Paramedic BDU’s & medical gear and Mom was the one riding the horse. You are truly best friends and a team that has stood together now for 36 years. The images of you refusing to let anyone but Mom remove your wedding ring – even in emergencies – is a sweet, meaningful memory I treasure and a tradition that Rob & I happily partake in.
As hard as it was to hear that you may not be with us much longer, I’m grateful God gave us this extra time with you. Thank you for your unconditional love and unwavering support. Even in your weakest moments, you reached for my hand to hold or reached to give me kisses. I would remind you that I love you and you always responded “I love you twice as much.” I strive to replicate your effortless dedication to family and serving others.
I promise to take care of Mom. You have absolutely nothing to worry about. I also promise to continue sharing stores with the grandkids, especially Elsie since she is so little, so they will always know what a great man their Papa is.
I don’t know what I’m going to do without you here. You are the one I always ran to for advice on life, on medical decisions, on everything. Even after being married, there are times Rob and I needed help making a decision on something and I always said, “Let’s call Dad!”
I will always have a piece of my heart that smiles when I think of you. I am forever filled with your light and love for life. I’m honored to be your daughter and will always be your Daddy’s Girl. I Love You!