Darling, only the good die young.

Dear Dad,

I’m not sure exactly why, but more often than not, I find myself thinking back to when life was perfect. I didn’t think it was perfect then, not by any means. You probably didn’t either. We had our battles, our problems, just like every family does. But I constantly keep thinking back to that time and wish to be there more than ever. I didn’t have bills, a job or college to figure out how to pay for (and graduate from). My biggest worry was whether or not I would get enough playing time in outside before the sun went down, before you and mom called us back inside. Undoubtedly, it was a much simpler time, but that much can be said about most people’s childhoods. Aside from the simple, carefree life I was living years ago, what I miss most about it is you.

I miss being able to be around my favorite human every single day. No tree was too tall to climb, because I always had your arms to lift me higher up. No school project was too difficult, because I had your crafty hands around to help me figure it out. No ice cream carton was too big to empty, because I had the perfect, sweet-toothed companion to help me finish it. No adventure was too big, because I had the bravest partner to guide me. No dream was unattainable, because I had you as my motivator to keep me going and tell me to never give up.  No heartbreak or hardship was too devastating, because I had your extremely loving heart, constantly reassuring me everything would be okay. When others said that, I never really believed them. But I believed you.

Every year, your birthday comes and I miss you even more than the year before. Just when I think my heart isn’t capable of missing someone anymore than it already does, it proves me wrong with each new October and November that come.  The missing you and the pain that comes with it, it’s indescribable. But you know what’s worse than that? It’s the forgetting part that tends to comes along with it.

It’s not by choice, trust me; I would never choose to forget the memories that include you. I’ve never had the best long-term memory, or even short-term at that, but I just wish I could choose the things I want to make stay in memory forever. As more time goes on, I get angrier and angrier. How could I let myself forget anything about you? Why do I remember less about you than I want to? Why can’t I remember you as the person you were, clear as day? I have memories, ones that I try to cling on to for dear life. But what about all of the little things about you?

As the years go on, I find myself forgetting what your voice sounds like, the sound of your laugh, the nervous giggle you made when you caught yourself in an awkward situation. I can’t remember what it feels like to hug you anymore. What it felt like to be enveloped in your arms when I had a bad day and couldn’t stop crying. What it felt like to run, full speed and jump into your arms at the airport after you had been away on a trip for work. What it felt like to curl up into your lap while we watched a movie and then be carried, half-asleep, to my bed after it was over. The image of you starts to fade slowly and I catch myself having to look at old pictures to remember your face for every feature and laugh line that it was. What I would give to just be able to remember the sound of your laugh. It’s so simple, but just seems so unattainable.

You would think that after all this time, I would learn to accept death, not let it follow me around and overcome my emotions, especially how I feel whenever you’re brought up. I really thought you were going to make it, never actually thought you would ever be stolen from us. No matter how strong I thought you were, how determined I knew you were to make it through, how positive you stayed throughout it all – your body just wasn’t in agreement. Man, cancer really fucking sucks doesn’t it?

I don’t know why I do it to myself, but I start to think about all the milestones in my life, in all of our lives, that you’ve missed. Graduations. Driving tests and licenses. First dates and new relationships. Moving out. Nathan moving to Oregon and back home… twice. First jobs. First cars. New jobs. New cars. Volunteer trips. Nathan signing with the Army. New friends. Your first grandson. Heartbreaks. Confusion. Breakdowns. Tears, lots of them, and for many different reasons. And the many more that will come. College graduations. Weddings. A walk down the aisle and a father-daughter dance. More grandkids. Even more new jobs. I could go on forever.

I think that’s why it’s so hard for me to come to terms with death, especially yours. I can’t help but scream over and over that it’s unfair that you aren’t here. So completely unfair that you weren’t able to be there for so many things that have already happened and still won’t be here for so many future ones either. It’s all so unfair. Why you? Not that I would wish it upon anyone, but why did it have to be you? I don’t think I’ll really ever get over it. But I guess there’s some things in life that we have to accept, even if we don’t understand.

But like you said, when you’re gonna go, only one person has control, and He wanted you there, not here. That’s what mostly helps keep me sane, that somehow, for some reason, this was in God’s plan for us. Acceptance, even without understanding.

Even if the memories continue to fade, my heart and my life will always be filled with you. Everyone has their person, the one who makes them who they are. The one they attribute their greatest qualities to. The one they call their role model and hero.

Mine was, is and always will be you.

I will love you forever, and ever, plus a day.

Love always,

Darling, only the good die young.

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