TITLE: Dear Dad
By Megan Starbuck
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I finished the other journal I was writing in. So I decided to start this one that you gave me for my last birthday. I think writing to you in it will help me feel like we're still connected--like you're still with me through the everyday as well as the big moments of life. I think most people think it's the big stuff that's the hardest--like weddings. If I ever get married, I'm gonna miss having you to walk me down the aisle, but for me the hardest part is the daily stuff. The reminders that you aren't here. A wedding is just one day. I'll be missing you terribly & you'll be missing from all the pictures, but at least for the most part it's just one day. But right now, I'm daily feeling the ache of missing you. I miss how chipper you are when you wake up in the mornings & how you'd swat my nose with your finger & call me kiddo even though I'm 22. It's also sad that you'll never get to meet my husband. Oh, would it be dramatic to say everything is sad without you?
*Sigh* I just don't want to forget you. Not that I really ever could. It's just that I could see myself keeping busy so I don't have to think about you because it hurts too much. But I think I'd regret that. I know it would catch up with me one day.
Anyway, I have so much to tell you. I bet some people would think I"m weird for writing you--like I'm writing to a ghost. I don't know if you can read this. It would be cool if you could, but I'm not really doing it for you. You probably have better things to do. I can catch you up on everything when I see you. But anyway, I think this is already helping me.
*Sigh* I know Aunt Tilney is worried about me. She wants me to be that same smiley, carefree girl she knew a few months ago. I wish she understood that I'm ok & that it's not a bad thing to grieve. I think she knows it, but it just still makes her sad & scared for me. I really have mellowed out & kept quietly to myself since you died. (Dad, it was so hard to write that. Sometimes it seems like you could still be alive. I'll imagine that you're just on a long trip. That one day you'll drive up, & I'll see you grin & hear you say my name again. But you never do. You never will.) I guess it worries her that she doesn't always know what I'm thinking.
I miss you. What makes it worse is that I know I'll have to go on missing you for the rest of my life. It might be 50 years. Dad, that's such a long time.
I'm sorry I'm crying. You don't mind, do you? It seems like other people think I shouldn't cry because I'll see you in Heaven someday. What's wrong with crying? I've seen people cry over much less important things. I usually try to be strong. I guess now I know what I was saving all my tears for.
But don't worry. I'm not miserable. I'm still getting letters about you. They always cheer & excite me. It's like I'm still getting to know you better. They are a small thrill & give me something to look forward to. The numbers have dwindled down lately, which I'm surprisingly glad about. It was becoming overwhelming & unmanageable. Mom helped me sort through them & decide which ones to reply to & which ones to put in a stack of our favorites. The rest we're keeping in the attic. I think it helped Mom, too. Aunt Tilney was certainly glad. Now I'm mostly just getting replies to my replies.
However, I did receive an interesting first letter today from a woman named Kim. She shared the story of how you saved her son. She included a picture of him--he's adorable! I immediately replied, enclosing a note of encouragement to him to not let your death be in vain. I told him I hoped he became as good of a man as you. I also asked him to do me a favor. I asked him to treasure every moment with his father (I think that's who was in the picture with him. He seems like a cool dad. He was helping the boy hold a huge fish. It must've set some kind of record because the picture was a clipping from a newspaper. The man sort of reminded me of you.)--even the boring or embarrassing ones or even the ones when he's mad or making him do something he doesn't wanna do, like chores.
I miss you begging me to wash dishes with you after supper...& how you'd splash me with water once I finally did help. Most of all, I miss cooking with you. Even though we've had plenty of good food to eat, at nearly every meal I wish it was your hamburgers I was eating. The day we had hamburgers was the worst, though. I wished it was you out there grilling them. And, once I realized that I'd never taste another one of your burgers, I could only force myself to eat a few more tiny bites. I felt so bad--& stupid, childish. I excused myself before I started bawling in front of everyone. I didn't know where to go where no one would follow me to check on me. So I said I had to use the bathroom. I did. But then I snuck out the side door of the house & went for a walk in the woods. I didn't have the strength to climb the tree, so I sat beneath it, my back resting on its large, sturdy trunk. I looked at the sky through its beautiful branches & then stared at my bare feet, wishing you'd appear to wrap your arms around me & let me know that I was safe from any danger--safe from a tragic life of disappointment. I always felt safe in your arms. Safe from robbers that I just knew would break in while I was sleeping. Safe from sinking beneath a merciless ocean wave. Safe from the neighbor's ferocious dog. Safe from the boys that broke my heart (though I never told you about them). Safe from the girls that seemed to have no heart. Safe from professors who expected too much. Safe from my own mistakes. I know you would've held me if you could. Thanks for all the times that you did hold me, though.
Oh & I almost forgot, they're wanting to put a plaque up to honor you. And you're not here to stop them. :) Don't worry, I'll make sure it looks good & inspires all who read it. And I won't let them brag on you too much. Hope you don't mind.
Always your girl,
Thank you for your kind reply to my letter. It made my day. My son also enjoyed the note he got from you. He liked it so much that he wrote a reply, which I agreed to send along with this one. I hope you can read his handwriting.
I'm sorry for the confusion in my first letter. I should have been more clear. I just don't have many pictures of my son by himself, so I gave you the one from the newspaper because I have another copy of it since a thoughtful friend gave me hers upon discovering that my son was in it. He's pictured with his nephew. The older gentleman is my son. Please forgive me for assuming you would know.
I was flattered that you described me as a "handsome young fellow" in your letter to my mom...until I opened your note to me. The sticker was a nice touch--& also the first clue that you possibly thought I was a much younger "fellow" than I actually am. I held to hope, though, thinking that maybe mom had for some reason mentioned that my dream car is a dump truck. I assumed that was why you put that sticker of one on my note, but then I noticed the simple vocabulary you used. When compared with the one to mom, the difference was quite noticeable. I thought maybe mom had mentioned that I'm a part-time mechanic, making you assume that I'm unintelligent. Honestly, I was glad to find that I understood every word perfectly. I also noticed that you wrote mine in print. I appreciate that, too. Cursive is so difficult to read.
What you wrote about my dad was really good advice. I needed to hear it. He often invites me over just to do chores, & I'd gotten sick of it. But now I really am trying to enjoy spending time helping him do yard work & fix stuff around the house. That sentence sounds really sarcastic, but I mean it completely sincerely. So thanks for the reminder.
I hope it doesn't bother you to know that I've grown up (so fast!) to be a scuba diving instructor. With a job like that, I'm not sure it's possible for me to reach the level of goodness that your father possessed. It's very humbling to owe your life to another man. Believe me, I don't take it lightly, & I want you to know the depth of my gratitude. Although I haven't rearranged my life or changed my occupation (I love scuba diving!) because of it, I have taken small steps to make the world a better place & show others that I care about them. Case in point, before the accident I never would've mailed a letter like this. I would've thought about it, maybe even written it, but I never would've sent it. I hope that brings you some comfort & less disappointment in finding out that I'm not that "handsome young fellow" with great potential.
P. S. What really gave it away that you thought I was my nephew was when you asked what grade I'm in. I finished 13th grade & realized college wasn't for me. I didn't want to waste time & money on it. Don't get me wrong, I love learning. I may even go back someday, but I wanted to be outdoors. I wanted to do something adventurous while I'm able & excited about it. (I thought I'd go ahead & give you a little explanation because most people ask for one.) So, what grade did you make it to?
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