Today you have been gone one week. You died in your sleep seven nights ago. My daddy has been dead for seven days.
Today is also Thanksgiving Day. I’m spending it with Sam’s family, up in Tennessee, and it’s been a good day. I’ve enjoyed myself and I’m glad I came. They are so nice, Dad, you’d like them a lot. I like it here. I love Sam, Dad. I only wish that you could have had a chance to love him, too. I know you would have.
A few minutes ago I had the brief thought that I should go check my phone because I haven’t heard from you today. You might have sent me a text. Then I remembered. It’s like that, Dad, it hits me again when I’m least expecting it. In the middle of a conversation, riding in the car, while of chewing a bite food. In the middle of the night, when I wake up with tears on my face and my pillow is damp. I’ve been dreaming about you, I know, but I don’t know exactly how or what. I’ve been taking Tylenol PM so I sleep, and deeply, but even in that deep sleep, I’m sad.
I have never been sad on Thanksgiving before, Dad, but I am today. It’s a different kind of sad now, just a little. I told myself it’s ok to take a break from the body-wracking kind of crying I have been experiencing. The kind that tears you up from inside, that makes your muscles tense up, where you have to throw your head back and gasp for breath, writhing in a pain you can’t touch, breathing in the tears smeared across your face. The kind where you hear the primal, guttural sounds that you can only assume must be coming from you. The kind that leaves you breathless and exhausted. It’s ugly crying. I can’t keep that up much longer, Dad. I’m sure it will still come like that, but not nightly, not every time I take a shower and I know the sound of water will cover the sound of my missing you.
Today, it was different. It’s settled inside me now. I never knew sadness could do that, Dad. I didn’t realize it covered your heart like a blanket, seeped into every part of you, your head, your stomach, even into your fingers. It’s not overpowering today, but it’s still there. It doesn’t leave. Under the happiness I’ve felt, under the laughter at the dinner table, under the childish joy of watching the parade, it’s there. It’s an ache, Dad. My heart aches for you, knowing I won’t see you again, knowing I can’t call and say happy Thanksgiving, just missing you in ways I didn’t expect. That ache is there all the time. Even when I’m not actively sad or crying, I’m conscious of it. Every other thought is you. I need to write out my Christmas cards. My dad is dead. This pie tastes good. I’ll never see my dad again. Sure, I’d like a drink. My dad is never coming home. I like this movie. Oh my god, Dad, I miss you. That’s how it is.
I’ll be ok, Dad. It’s just going to take some time. I’m afraid that after your funeral, people are going to expect me to be okay, to be back to normal. I can’t do that, though, Dad. Sam said that people can’t expect me to bury my father and just be fine. It doesn’t work like that. I’m going to have to find a new normal. I’m going to cry for a long time. I’m going to remember you when I least expect it. I don’t know how long this will take, how long I’ll cry, or when memories will hit me. I just don’t know. I’m afraid that now that the funeral is over, now the real hard part starts. Now I have to live without you. How do I even think about doing that, Dad? I just don’t know. I don’t know.
So, Happy Thanksgiving, Daddy. I have much to be thankful for. Mom and Matthew and Heather and Pete and Sam, all of the sweet people who sent cards and brought food and tissues and hugs. I have a good job, sweet pets. I know I’m a lucky girl. But oh my God, Dad, I miss you. I’ll be ok. But right now, I’m not yet. I miss you. It’s raw and new and I feel scared and vulnerable and exhausted. I’m so thankful for the 29 years I had with you, even though sometimes you made me so angry. You were human. I know that. And I miss it all.
Happy Thanksgiving, Dad. I love you so much, and I miss you even more.