Dear Dad – Letter Six

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It’s blurry, but I just love your expression in this pic. We were at Lakeside Camera taking the last couple of pictures on the roll of film before we dropped it off to get it developed.

Dear Dad,

This is just a quick note to tell you about last night’s dream. It was a short and simple dream, but it made me feel good.

RR and I were in my bedroom with the door closed, getting dressed for the day I suppose. All of a sudden, I heard your voice. You called to me from downstairslike you have done so many times before. You said, “Tiny (that’s my alias)! Open the door so that I can see you!” I turned to RR and asked “Did you hear that?” RR had heard it too. I flung the door open, thinking for some reason that you would be standing there. You weren’t there.

That’s it for the dream. It was short and sweet. It may sound sad, but it wasn’t. I woke up feeling so happy that I had heard your voice after not hearing it for so long, and I just wanted to tell you about it.

I miss your voice.

Love,

Tiny

Dear Dad – Letter Five

Dear Dad,

So, this morning I gave Pookie my old iPhone to play with (I know- I shouldn’t do it all the time, but he was having a rough morning and really REALLY wanted it), and we started to listen to some of my iTunes. First, we listened to some Vampire Weekend (you wouldn’t like them), then (yes, it’s true) “Ice Ice Baby” over and over (if you even remember that song, you definitely wouldn’t approve, but Pookie loved it), but then I set iTunes to play all of my songs on random, which is always fun. Some good stuff came on – Angel Olsen, Stromae, Damien Jurado and The National. It’s amazing what this all did for my mood. Lately, I’ve been so depressed that I stopped even enjoying music at all. But today was different.

Suddenly, a song from Les Misérables (the original London cast of course) came on. I’m pretty sure it was “Do You Hear the People Sing?,” and, suddenly, I was consumed with thoughts of you. Pookie and I listened to the whole soundtrack. He really seemed to love all of Eponine’s songs – those were always my favorite! – and was doing his cute little dance to them. As always, I was extremely moved by the incredible beauty of every single one of the tracks, and I was thinking about how lucky I am that you got me into Les Mis.

I must have been 10 or 11. We still lived in the big house in Chateau Estates. I would play the soundtrack in the den and sing along while dancing around the pool table. You had gone to London with Charlie and seen it there. Then the big day came when you took me to see the musical. I’m not sure how much I understood, but it blew my mind. Now I’ve seen it a total of three times and counting.

But back to this morning. As I’m enjoying the music with my son and concentrating all of my thoughts on you and how I have you to thank for my appreciation for music like this and in general, I had a realization. I looked at my watch and realized that today is the first anniversary of your death. I knew it was coming up, but I had forgotten until that moment.

Dad, I just can’t believe that it was accidental that the morning went the way it did. I believe that you were right there with us. I miss you so much it’s insane. It wasn’t easy to get through this year. But this morning gave me a hint of good things to come. I know you would want me and my little family to be happy, and I’m going to try hard to make that happen.

I’m also going to pass on my love of music to Pookie. That’ll be one of your many gifts to him.

Love,

Tiny

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Dear Dad – Letter Four

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Dear Dad,

We had your unveiling on Wednesday. The lovely cantor from Gates of Prayer spoke so beautifully about mourning and remembering. I also spoke (perhaps you overheard?), and here’s what I said:

“It’s hard to believe that almost a year has passed since you passed away. Things obviously feel different today than they did in January. The shock has worn off a bit. It’s easier to get through the day and even the week without crying. This is of course not to say that I don’t still miss you terribly. In fact, I miss you more now than I did then because now it’s actually been almost a year since I’ve seen you. But something else that is different today is that I can already feel my memory of you fading just a tad. All this year, I could hear your voice and your laugh, even the way you would always clear your throat. I could see your funny expressions and the way your eyes would light up. This was all so incredibly vivid, but it’s becoming less so. I don’t want to forget you, and of course I know I won’t. But that is why I have started to record my memories of you. You were such a special person and such a character, not one to be easily forgotten, but I don’t want to risk it.”

Afterwards, I asked everyone to help me remember by sharing their stories about you over lunch. We had a great time laughing and reminiscing. I will soon start to share their stories in these letters.

Your headstone looks beautiful by the way. I think you would like it, what with the Bob Dylan quote and everything. I had a hard time choosing a quote, but I thought you’d like “It’s life and life only” from “It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding).” I’ve thought long and hard about that quote and how it applies to you. For me, it captures the idea that life is everything and nothing at the same time. You certainly would have agreed with that concept, but unfortunately you couldn’t live by it. You spent most of your time stressing out in the “life is everything” part of the spectrum. I wish you could have sometimes let things go, relaxed and enjoyed life. Remember that amazing scene (I know you do) in Risky Business when Tom Cruise says “What the fuck?” I wish you could’ve sometimes said “What the fuck” and enjoyed yourself for a change.

Charlie pointed out to me that you used to have so much fun. I loved hearing about just how eccentric you were, bringing your two afghans into class with you in college. It’s fun to try to picture that, but it’s difficult. I wish I could’ve known you then. The you I did know was amazing, don’t get me wrong, but I wish you could’ve let a few things roll off your back every now and then. You could absolutely never do that, and our relationship suffered as a result.

We could’ve been so much closer if I could’ve spoken more freely with you. I stopped talking to you about anything serious because I knew that if I didn’t watch what I said so carefully, I could easily set you off. With something as small as a word, a nuance or a half smile, I would inadvertently worry you, stress you out or even anger you, so I started watering down our conversations, until there was nothing left. I was so tired of fighting. It felt good to end the fighting, but it cost me our relationship. I’m so incredibly sorry, Dad.

Writing these letters to you makes me feel quite a bit better, but I wish I could go back and tell you everything. I just hope you’re somehow able to hear me now.

Love,

Tiny

Dear Dad – Letter Three

Dear Dad,

We visited you today, and Pookie caressed the star of David on your headstone. It’s hard to describe the heartbreak I feel knowing that you won’t get to know your grandson. The only times you saw him at all were first on Facetime when we were still in New York and then when you were at the hospital. We were taking a risk by bringing him in the hospital at all since he was so little then, but we did it knowing it could be the only time you saw him at all.

It was so cute how you described him (over and over) as “stout.” The hospital stay and the drugs had made you a bit out of it at that point so you would ask “what was that word again?” and we would have to remind you of the word “stout.” You loved that he was “stout” and said that no one would ever mess with him.

Dad, I hope so much that somehow you can still see him. He’s 14 months old now and is truly Mr. Personality. He’s so cute, so sweet and so expressive. I know I’m biased, but I swear he’s something special. People call him a comedian, and it’s so true, and I like to think he gets his sense of humor from you.

Throughout my life, you always cracked me up, but now I’m learning about so many hilarious stories from your younger years. I’ll be sharing some of those stories as well as my own in these letters to you. I know it sounds cliché, but I feel like if I preserve these stories and memories that it will keep you alive somehow. I just want to remember as much as I can, and, most importantly, I want Pookie to eventually get to know you through these stories.

Love,

Tiny

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Dear Dad – Letter Two

Dear Dad,

For the past 10 months, I have been listening to Elton John almost constantly. I even stumbled upon an album of “Lullaby Renditions of Elton John” and had to buy it for Pookie. When I listen to Elton John, especially “Your Song,” “Levon,” “Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters” and “High Flying Bird,” I’m of course filled with thoughts of you. Some of my clearest memories as a child are of us driving around in Kenner, Louisiana singing along to “Elton John’s Greatest Hits Volume 1.” Back then I remember really liking the bouncy beat of “Honky Cat,” and I’m pretty sure that my made-up lyrics to “Bennie and the Jets” date back to that time. Of course it’s “Your Song” that really gets me, which is why I chose it for our father-daughter dance at our wedding. Even though, with all of your injuries, you hardly moved at all, everyone said how touching our “dance” was. We looked into each other’s eyes as we sang along, knowing every word, every note, every sound of this perfect love song like the backs of our hands. It was such a beautiful moment that I cherish and so wish we could relive.

“Your Song” was also yours and my mom’s song at your wedding, which of course made me think twice before choosing it. Recycling it felt kind of strange and wrong, like I was stealing it from my parents. And because your marriage was not exactly the most successful of marriages, I wondered, in your superstitious fashion, if this would doom my marriage. But somehow I just couldn’t get around it. Plus, RR and I had our own song, “When You’re Smilin’,'” and our story would of course be different. Dad, I need my family’s story to be different.

Regardless, I’m hoping to foster a love of Elton John (and of course Bob Dylan) in my little munchkin. I know that I feel close to you when I listen to Elton, so I feel like if Pookie gets into Elton, he’ll have some kind of a connection to you.

By the way, I’m missing you so very much right now.

Love,

Tiny

Dear Dad – Letter One

Dear Dad,

It has been 10 months since you passed away before my eyes. My first child was four months old almost to the day when you passed. I can’t say I have mastered the art of grieving while caring for a newborn. My grief had to take a backseat. But it’s not just about grief. Our relationship was complicated, and your death has left me with the need to understand it. Before you died, I tended to focus on the negative aspects of our relationship, and then afterwards, I only wanted to focus on the positive. In these letters, I won’t leave anything out. I will include the good, the bad and everything in between.

Love,

Tiny

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