An Open Letter To My Dad on His 69th Birthday
It’ll be a year next week that your grandson has been with us and I’m gonna start writing letters to him like I write to you. I don’t always know how you’ll show up for me...just that you will, and I want him to know that you will show up for him, too. So here we are. On your 69th birthday. Happy birthday, Kouk!
I’m sure you know much of what I’m about to say, but I’m saying it anyway, because it helps me move through this—this life I’m living without you in it. I’ll start by touching again, briefly, on the hardest thing for me to talk about, and the sweetest: Oliver Douglas. When I think of what you two would have, could have, should have been, that raw part of me splits wide open and I don’t like it. So I try not to. Your birthday is harder for me this year because I see him every day. He exists, and you don’t. Not in the way I want you to, at least. And it’s just...too much.
The feelings aren’t about the hobbies you would have shared or the spaghetti you could have made for him or the cars and boats and motorcycles you should have shown him. It’s about the easiness of it all. I could have abused your retired availability and known that not only would my son be in GREAT hands, but also that neither of you would miss or need me much. It's hard to reset the expectations of the little girl who wanted so badly to see her dad with her son. I'm working on that, but it's tough. Mostly, I manage them by not managing them at all, by pushing them away and focusing on the precious little thing in front of me, belly-laughing as I bite his ribs or crawl-chasing his reluctant feline brother. He's the best thing. I know you know that. I know you are watching over him. Please watch over him always. Protect him from all that is big and bad, guide him on the path to his personal brilliance and sense of adventure, show him some really worthwhile hobbies, and keep him in front of you, in your light. Love him however you can. He deserves all the love you can pour over him. I trust you. I believe in you to take care of the things for him that I can't.
As for me, I got brave and I struck out on my own to try working for myself and being in charge of my own schedule and it's exactly what I've been needing for a long time. I no longer have a work nemesis everywhere I go who doesn't even know they're my work nemesis. I don't sit through many meetings staring out the window or, worse, wishing there was a window to stare out of. I am having FUN with my work and it's bringing me the fulfillment I need to be a whole human outside of raising your grandson. I am a mommy, but I'm still a person with big ideas and creative plans to hatch in the world. Right now it's working, and I have a hunch I have you to thank, at least partially, for that.
Cutting out the costs of daycare has allowed Raz and me a little financial flexibility to work on our house: we've installed new hardwood floors and have been chipping away on the progress of our eat-in kitchen nook. I think you'd be really impressed with how much work Raz has done. He's handy. I think I'll keep him, even if he does make me do occasional manual labor. Doesn't he know I'm your Princess Buttercup? You may have forgotten to mention it.
On Raz's and my wedding day, my letter to you said I hoped we'd build a life that made you proud. We've invested in our home, in our careers, in our relationships, and in each other. We spend a lot of time dreaming big and feeling grateful. I think you'd be really proud of how far we've come already. We're still just getting started, but that start is good and solid.
I can't know how you and I would have celebrated today, but I can guess that it would have probably ended with ice cream. So, today, as always, I'll get an extra scoop to celebrate you: your life, your legacy, and all the true goodness you left behind.
I love you fiercely, maybe more than ever before. I hope you're having ice cream up there, too. I miss you lots and lots and lots infinity lots.
Until we meet...