Did I ever really know him?

February 7, 2020

Mostly it is loss that teaches us about the worth of things

Good grief: Remembering my father (3/12/44 - 2/7/98)

Recently, I listened to a story about the last letter a woman received from her father before he died. My first thought was how lucky she was since there was no note when my father died. But then, she went on to explain the little he had written left her empty and wanting, like that is all you wanted to tell me? It made me wonder if any words would be enough. And then I thought... did I really get to know him?

I  turned off the radio and sat in silence. Tears festered as I tried to untangle this eruption of emotions, a reminder of how much time had past since his death in 1998, the unfairness of life, and what it all has taught me?

If he was here today, I imagine, with some convincing, I could get my father to join me at a Starbucks for a coffee. He would joke about the cost but eventually relent, since one thing I know for sure, he did love his coffee.

But would he have changed like I see myself evolving over these past twenty years? Would he work less and want to be with his grandkids and great grandkids? Or would his focus still be on building his business? There was word of a company buying him out once, would that have changed his path in life? Did I really get to know him?

Reaching back into the past to one of our last conversations, I remember how he strangled his emotions, I am sure to protect me, during a season when pain was not dissected. I was 33 and he 53. We were still struggling with Ryan's death. His tears were thick and muffled, betraying his stern existence as he turned to hide these raw emotions.

But the pain still seeped into the room as he attempted to conceal his anguish he blurted "I don't remember the last time I laughed" and my heart broke with him as he stifled back the tears.

How hard it must have been for him to grapple with the pain, and now how I wish I had opened up more about my own agony, presenting a space to soften his mask of bravery. Did he know he didn't have to be the tough guy? Did I really get to know him?  

Anyone who has lost understands the finality of death. The conversations that abruptly end, the survivors bereft in words.  Moments robbed from our future when everything changes. Death reminds us all of its presence, its certainty, its end. And if we don't share our true selves with one another will we one day leave them wondering if they ever really knew us?


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  • February 7, 2020 @ 10:44 AM EST
    By Aunt carol
    You are a very talented writer. The photo was taken on a cousins trip to oglevay . we had so much fun that trip. I wish we had more time together. Love
  • February 7, 2020 @ 8:34 AM EST
    By Pat mackenney
    Beautiful words....true feelings
  • February 7, 2020 @ 8:03 AM EST
    By Rosemary Roscoe
    The answer to the "why" question never gets answered. In a second they are taken from us leaving us empty and void. Life goes on but that bit of sadness always remains in our hearts, even after 22 years.
  • February 7, 2020 @ 7:53 AM EST
    By Jackie
    You have put into words so many things that I was thinking....my Dad and I had many conversations his last couple months, and I am grateful for that. Tho he always held back his true hurt.
  • February 7, 2020 @ 7:52 AM EST
    By Christine Dabramo
    Beautifully spoken. Your father was a wonderful man and very proud of his family! Thank you for sharing this.

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