On the 2nd of January 2016, I lost my Dad.
We knew it was coming, he had terminal cancer after all, and had fought the really good strong fight for 2 years, but I still wasn’t ready for that call to come through. “His gone Anna”.
I had never been hit with so much grief in my life – and the pain you feel when loosing a parent (considering you come from their very being) is a physical pain like nothing you will have experienced before. My heart literally ached. I had a physical heaviness in my chest far greater than any panic attack I had ever suffered or sadness I had felt before.
3 days after his loss, after sleeping – a lot – and being as disconnected as humanly possible, I collapsed in the kitchen whilst making myself a coffee from crying so much and letting the pain in my body take me over.
I had been speaking to Dad daily for over 6 months in the last stages of his decline. And in one of those calls less than 2 weeks before he passed, he said he knew the time was very much near, and he requested Morgan and I take one last trip – little did he know we were already coming (with my oldest brother Nate). We were planning on surprising him on his birthday the 4th January having booked flights for the 3rd January, but on the 2nd of January – he took his final breathes and left this earth plane.
I know that was a huge contributing factor to how much pain I was in. I knew Dad wanted to see us all one last time, and he just couldn’t hold out. Dad was the strongest (and craziest) man I knew – with a fighting spirit that sometimes didn’t seem human, 2 traits I know he gave me, so I knew he knew I was strong enough to see him in his final moments, I just think we didn’t get there fast enough.
And sure…. in the days following his death, I KNEW he wasn’t in pain anymore (which I was more grateful for than I can articulate), and I knew that ultimately I should be celebrating his life, not being so selfishly sad, and so picking myself back up off the floor on the day I felt the grief the most, I knew what I had to do.
I had to write.
So I sat in my office, sobbing heavily, un able to sit up properly or see clearly – and I wrote this letter to him. And by the end of signing off, I had stopped crying and for the first time in 3 days, was taking deep full breaths. And even though in the days to come I was still crying, the tears did lessen and the pain was becoming more bearable to move through.
So on this day, Fathers day, I was compelled to share my letter. Unedited and I am sure spelling mistakes and all.
7 months on and Dad visits me with White Feathers, I seem to only have moments of tears when I’m driving and I am more grateful than ever of the nature traits you instilled in me – but I still really do miss him.
Dad is a part of my life most don’t know about (other than my longest and closest of friends) – but is sharing this today shares a big part of my life from 18 – 28 years of age.
I live my life sharing all aspects of it to allow others to do the same. I openly share the bad times, the good times, the boring times, the normal times and today – I share another little part of me that means a lot, purely in the hope that openly sharing how deep I did grieve allows any other people the courage and space to share their own grief more openly.
But most of all – I share this to honour Dads legacy now his left this earth.
p.s if you have lost a parent no matter how young or old you are, I’d love to hear what you loved the most or miss the most yourself about them in the comments section. One thing I know for sure is that talking about it, writing about it and sharing it does feel better than holding it all in.
You’re gone now. Just like that.
And even though I saw it coming Dad, it still really, really hurts.
The day you chose to leave this earth, I think deep down I knew, even though I was hoping against all might it wouldn’t be. I woke up not feeling well and turned to Morgan saying I was so scared at any moment I’d get the call to say you’d taken your last breathe, and the very same day – you did, and I got the very call I was dreading.
I was so upset that I didn’t get to take the last flight I booked to say goodbye – but I know and hold on to you choosing for me to not see you like you were. Here, but already gone. Just know I would have been strong enough, because you gave me that fighting strength.
I know you are no longer in pain now, and that is what gives me the greatest peace of all. That, and knowing that you have returned to infinite love and divinity, or as you loved to tell me as often as you could “you’re returning to meet your maker”.
It hasn’t yet stopped my pain though, knowing you’re not in any anymore.
It’s a pain that feels heavy – a physical pain and heaviness right where my heart is and I know I shouldn’t be telling you this, you’re busy ‘up there’ now after all, but I think you would also love that I am letting you know. That was something I know you always loved about me – my ability to speak the truth (sometimes as you would cringe – ‘too truthful’ – but that’s your fault, I absolutely got that from you).
What is most upsetting though Dad, and still is a crushing pain daily that is the part I need to learn to live with the most, is that I can’t just jump on a plane and come and see you anymore, drinking too much coffee and eating too much fruit and nut chocolate with you when I did. It hurts that I can’t pick up the phone and call you every single day and hear your excited “hey baby girl” when I do. That’s what I’ll miss the most.
You and I were the lucky ones though Dad. Lucky in that I never had to get yelled at by you growing up or go through the moody teenage years with you or have you pretend to hate my boyfriends because we got to start our relationship when I was 18, and for the past almost 10 years we got to cram more stories and truth and love in to our lives than some dads and daughters do in a lifetime – so thank you for that.
I am grateful I got to love and respect you not just as a Dad either, but saw you for the individual you were wearing many hats, as a brother, a son, a grandfather and a man, trying to do the best he could with how he knew.
I will never forget the first time you had come to the school us kids were at and word spread around the playground you were there, a little boy came running up to tell 6 year old me, “Anna, Anna! Your dad is here?!!!” and without even having ever met you properly, running straight up to you and in to your arms without hesitation. I know that was one of your favourite memories too as you told the story to me often with the largest smile possible in my later years of life.
You always asked me why though, why, without even knowing you did I run with such confidence to you, and I think the answer lies in the truth of parenthood.
It’s because I chose you and mum as parents and you being my dad was a part of my truth I didn’t always have to understand to know it to be true. Even at 6 years old.
And sure you and mum chose each other when you got together but I chose you both too – I needed both of you in my life to teach me all that I had to learn to be my own person in this life.
Mum, who taught me every conceivable good and just thing in this world, like love, patience, determination, kindness, giving, respect – and you – who taught me the more wild and serious side of life, I’m grateful too your lessons came later on in my life, right when I was ready for them. You instilled in me my love of travel (genetics I swear), my penchant for swear words and how sometimes ‘fuck’ just does explain exactly what you need it too, my stubbornness – my god my stubbornness and my street smarts.
You AND mum, were and will always remain even though you’re now gone– the ying and yang to my life and all it’s lessons, and I am so grateful I chose you as my Dad.
My first memory of meeting you as an 18 year old after choosing to want to build a relationship with you and getting to build it however we pleased from day 1 was you asking if I had ever done acid, no dad, I replied, to which you in all your bad assery said “well, if you ever do want to do it I want to make sure I do it with you to make sure you’re ok” – ok big guy. I have to say, at 18, I figured out pretty fast I had a strange sure, but “cool” Dad.
I will never forget the first time Morgan met you either and the conversations that ensued the more he got to spend time with you over the years, but the lasting statement that could be his memory of ‘us’ is his understanding of me after meeting you. It was after one of our visits to you in 2014 sitting out together on the balcony at Charlottes house where you stayed the last years of your life, we said the same things, finished each others sentences, swore a lot when we were excited and were as stubborn as the other and when we left that day he told me that I made sense now – there was always a side to me (the bad assery / stubborn side shall we say Dad) that he couldn’t place and as soon as he met you, it clicked.
I remember getting the letter at Christmas 2013 to let us know they’d found black spots on your lungs and the prognosis wasn’t good at all. Stage 4 inoperable, untreatable Cancer – the outcome….terminal. I was sitting on the floor in my zen den at home and cried like I have never cried before – that is until I got the call you were gone 3 days ago. You didn’t know how long you had, you kept saying what your Dr told you “well how long is a piece of string” but one thing I had learned from you is you were a fighter and stubborn, both traits that saw you give us so much more of you than I think even your Dr’s expected. 2 years you lasted Dad. 2 years. I really don’t think anyone ever expected you to fight that long, but you did, and THAT is what I have learned the most from you and the legacy you leave behind in me – a fighting spirit. To live life on your own terms and never give up.
The last time I got to be with you in hospital we said at the exact same time “it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog” and that summed up your last few years to me. It didn’t matter how sick you got or how many times in my opinion, or the Dr’s you defied medical odds, you fought. And I’m so so grateful and so so glad you did, because I got two more years of stories, chats, advice and having you as ‘Dad’ in my life.
I’m sorry Morgan and I never got to give you a cuddle of our first born as I know you so hoped you would get but I am grateful that when we have our little one(s) they get a VERY special guardian angel looking after them. I have no doubt they’ll still feel the presence of your energy and love from above.
I am going to miss you Dad, really really miss you, but am grateful you’re at peace now, a peace I know you have been searching for in other things quite literally your whole life.
I promise to chat with you often still and that I will always be your ‘baby girl’
I hope they had the extra sugar for your coffee, a rad motorbike, extra copies of your favourite book; the bible (no doubt there are plenty of them though) and an endless supply of fruit and nut chocolate as soon as you arrived ‘up there’ 3 days ago and you live in infinite love and divinity as you so deserved.
Visit me in my dreams sometimes just so I can still hear your raspy laugh and strong certain voice no matter what words you have always spoken….
Love “your darling daughter”,
This letter is sooo special! I lost my mum to cancer when I was 11 years old. My baby brother was only 18 months old at the time. I am now almost 24 and I miss her just as much as I did on the morning I received the dreaded news!
When she came home in her coffin I too expressed my feelings through writing her a letter. Oh how I wish someone had photocopied it before we said our final goodbye and closed the coffin lid. I would do anything to remember my thoughts and feelings I had recorded that day.
There are many many things I miss about my beautiful mum but something that has affected me in recent times is I gave birth to my beautiful daughter 7 weeks ago and although she is not here to share this special time in my life, I was able to take her up North to my mums headstone. A kind friend took some photos of myself and my daughter with her “nana Leigh”. I will forever hold these photos cloae to my heart.
Thank you for sharing your story, your feelings and emotions and thank you for encouraging others to do the same.
Lots of love,
Leesa and Macey Leigh xo
Thankyou. Truly. My beautiful Dad left this earth in February this year ( terminal lung cancer, diagnosed Oct 2015) and being the ‘strong’ one in the family, I haven’t properly greived…until today. Waking this morning it all hit me. But reading your letter has helped, so thankyou. I will miss his voice the most. His words of wisdom at the exact appropriate time. The only person to call me Kitten. And his strong hands that, even at the very end, could hold me with such intensity and love. To your Dad & mine, hopefully they can have a chin wag up there because it sounds like they would have a fucken great time together! Love to you Anna ❤
I literally have tears streaming down my face! I too lost my dad, only last year. It still feels so raw. The one thing I miss most is feeling his tight bear hugs, the kind that actually take your breath away for a moment , while he squeezes so tight. I miss his weekly visits to my house after golf on a Saturday afternoon. We would sit outside, drink our coffee and chat about anything and everything. He would usually get so involved and passionate about a subject that he would state fact after fact to prove his point. Dad was such a smart man. He was my google. He always had the right words to say, he only ever supported me and loved me. He taught me lessons I will never forget. He gave me strength in his time of weakness and I hope I only did him proud.