There are so many things I wish I would have said & done. So many things left unsaid. I tried. I really did. When you were alive and I went to visit you on Mondays, over the course of 3 1/2 years I tried to open my heart & tell you how much you meant to me. But it was difficult. Astrid was there with us and the baby needed attention. Lots of interruptions in our conversation ensued. The Alzheimer's took you away a lot of the time & conversations weren't always possible. That would make me so sad. Not wanting to talk about death. Focusing on the present. Trying to deal with the situation & all the stress. On top of that I'm my father's daughter and peeling back all the layers to expose vulnerability is difficult for me.
The doctors kept telling us you were going to die soon. Everyone in the family was in denial, except me. And that tremendous burden was so heavy on me. I'm not complaining. What you went through was so terrible & I wanted so badly to alleviate all of your suffering. I convinced mom that she should tell you that you were dying. It was done out of love.
In the hospital, one day when you were clear headed, Mom and I were on either side of your bed, holding your hands. We didn't know how long the fog would be lifted. We both in our own way told you what was happening and that you would die soon. I'm so glad that we had that conversation with you. We wanted to know your last wishes. We wanted you to share your heart with us. I keep hearing you say, "We just need to get a better doctor." Every time I think about that I burst into tears. It hurts my heart so much because the doctors couldn't do anything for you & all the doctors told us to start preparing for your imminent death. Then you said, "I'm not ready yet. I don't want to say anything that will embarrass myself." Fuck. You were so strong. You were the strongest man I've ever met. You were a different generation. In the end you told us all you wanted was for your family to be there. Mom and I were both bawling our eyes out. I told you how much I appreciated you. I'm so glad I got to tell you while you were alive and mentally there. You heard me and I know it touched your heart. When mom told you to tell me you loved me...I said you didn't have to b/c I already knew. I've always known you loved me dad. There was never any question of that.
You always told me that your dad never told you that he loved you until you were in your late 40's. As tough & old school of a guy you were - that caused you a lot of pain & you never wanted your kid to grow up feeling unloved. So you would tell me - "You know I love you right?" you'd say. "Yes, Dad. I know." I'd say. I'm sure this was accompanied by some eye rolling in my preteen years. And you'd tell me the story of your dad and how you didn't want to make that same mistake.
You gave me unconditional love. You were the first man I ever loved. What a gift to have a father like you who thought the world of me. Growing up you always told me I could do & be whatever I wanted, except be the President of the United States (since I wasn't born in the U.S.), but you didn't think I would want that anyway. And you were right. You gave me self confidence. How I appreciate all those intangibles you instilled in me. It shows in my relationships with others. It shows in my outlook on the world. It shows in my work ethic. It shows in my marriage. It shows in my parenthood.
Not a day goes by that I don't think about you. When I look at my daughter I think of you and want to instill that self confidence and strong foundation you gave me. When I see my husband & daughter together, I think of you. Even when they struggle & have a battle of wills it reminds me of you and I. You raised me to be a strong woman & I'm striving to do the same for my child. I appreciate your life even more.
I miss you so much Dad. It's all about love. I love you & I always knew you loved me.