Growing Pains

An Alien To The Status Quo

Letters From My Heart Part 2: I Hope You Are Proud Of Me

Letters From My Heart Part 2: I Hope You Are Proud Of Me

Dear Daddy,

This is the first time that I am writing to you. It wasn’t an oversight on my part. For the longest time, I thought I had made up the man who used to smile at me while swinging me up and down when I was two years old. Somehow, in the way that kids do, I knew that you cared for me and that you would protect me. I didn’t make you up. My existence is a testament to yours and to your legacy.

I hope I am making you proud.

The truth is, I don’t know what to say to you because I didn’t get to know you. Of all the bad things that have happened to me, I find the fact that I never got to know you the most egregious. Not knowing the half that made me always makes me feel like I’m missing out on something like my identity is skewed because I don’t know you.

Life has not always been kind to me. I believe that unkindness started when you left Earth. I was two years old, barely conscious of the world. There’s something about the finality of death that feels so out of place with how ubiquitous life is. Life is so constant and dynamic. It surrounds us continuously, so the finality of death feels jarring and out of place because it represents an absolute end to this ongoing vibrancy and energy.

This contrast between life’s persistence and death’s permanence is extremely difficult to reconcile. Life seems boundless and ever-present, while death is a singular, definitive event. This dissonance has led me to conclude that death is incongruent with the ubiquitous nature of life. And it messes with me.

I pray I am making you proud.

Dear Daddy, yours was the first death I experienced, and it shaped my entire life in profound ways—some good, most bad. The loss of a father, especially at a formative age, creates a void that is difficult to fill because fathers are pivotal in providing their children with a sense of identity and direction.

Fathers, good fathers particularly, are essential for any child to grow up successfully. They provide not just love and support but also a framework for understanding the world. Their influence shapes our values, our ambitions, and our sense of self-worth.

They are their children’s first role models. You were supposed to be mine, and in your absence, I had to recreate you in my mind. The words I used to recreate you were stolen from snippets of conversations that I overheard throughout the years.

“Your father was a good man…”

“Your father was quiet and kind…”

“Your father was very particular and funny…”

“Your father was studious, he liked his books…”

The thing I heard the most was how much like you I looked. My skin color, my eyes, and my teeth are all you, I’m told. I’ve seen pictures, of course, but the pictures from the ’90s didn’t quite do a person justice because they were a whole event, and what matters—the smile, the character of a person—is hidden behind this stoic mask. You looked stern in those photos. Every time I would look at them, I would examine them closely, trying to find me in your eyes and trying to create a mental picture of a person I hoped would be proud of me. I find myself thinking about the sound of your laugh, was it loud and happy? What did you look like sad? All questions I can’t quite answer.

I hope you are proud of me.

I have this very incomplete picture of who you were, and I have a burning curiosity to get to know you. I filled in the spots with who I thought a good father should be. I idolized the picture of you that I created when I was younger. Maladaptive daydreaming was how I survived the daily torment of growing pains. I would imagine this whole life with you, and in this life, everything I did made you proud. I struggled, and I still do, with all the things that were supposed to be addressed by you. My self-esteem and self-worth were below zero growing up, and this was supposed to be what you took care of. I was a child without a tether, and that made me want to disappear from my reality. Being in this made-up world where you existed and you were proud of me was how I survived.

Until my Papa came into my life. He filled the you-shaped hole in my life, and then some. For a few years, I felt myself being centered. I wasn’t a rudderless ship on a stormy sea anymore. And then he too died, leaving me unmoored. Sometimes I wonder if what I’m doing now or how my life is going now is something that they would be proud of, these two men… You two fathers. I have to start to wonder if that’s all I’ll ever be, the girl who lost her fathers.

I hope you have caught the highlights of my life. I hope you see that I am trying my best and that life really is kicking my ass, but I keep trying to get some punches in. I hope you know that I know that you tried and that’s all that matters. I hope you know that even though I didn’t get to know you, which I mourn the most, I know that I was cared for by you. I hope you got to know my Papa when he died and that you thanked him for a job well done. And most of all, I hope you are proud of me.

9 thoughts on “Letters From My Heart Part 2: I Hope You Are Proud Of Me

  1. Beautiful! I am certain they are proud of you and are doing more for you in heaven than they ever would have in this life.

  2. after reading you i was sobbing. I lost my father ç years ago and i’m still grieving. I’m not ready to write to him.

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