I Miss My Dad

Dear Dad,
I miss you so much. I have dreams again and again in which I make plans with you -- to go to lunch, to get together, to bring Jackson over to spend time with his Pap Pap. As hard as all of this has been for me, the hardest thing is that Jackson, and my other children to come (God willing), will not know you. I am so glad that Jackson knew you and that you had a year with my son. I know that he won't remember you, but you held him and he felt your love and was so excited to see you. I am also so happy that we had the chance to tell you that we were expecting again. We're going to have another boy, Dad. I'll take him, and Jackson, to the Army-Navy game and tell them stories about their Grandpap for all my life. Please help me to be a good and loving father; come to me and fill me with your endless capacity for love and strength.
Dad, I miss you so much that it physically hurts me. There are times when I feel like I can't breathe, like my chest is going to explode. I know that you will always be there in my heart, but I don't know if that will be enough for me. You are the best man I have ever known. I wish you were here so I could talk to you about Jackson, about the baby. We're due on December 5, but with Haley's obstetric cholestasis, they'll probably deliver the baby in November. Just thinking about that makes me miss you all the more. We had our second sonogram today. Your second grandson was moving all around, kicking and waving. Everything looks good. He's growing and developing wonderfully.
You always told me that the proudest day of your life was the day I was born. The proudest day of my life was the day Jackson was born, but the proudest moment was on that day, was when you held my son. The look in your eyes, the pride resonating from you brought tears then and bring more now. God how I miss you. You were my best friend, my best buddy since I was a baby. You taught me so much -- you gave me the world. I have so much to be grateful for, but I feel shorted. Dad, we should have had another 20 or 30 years. My boys should have had a chance to grow up with you in their lives. Though I will move heaven and earth to try, I can't make up for that -- I can't bring all of you through to them -- but I will try.
For my whole life, you stood behind me, supporting me, encouraging me, getting me out of trouble, teaching me, getting after me, loving me. For every time that I hurt you, ever, little or big, I am so sorry. I am consoled by the fact that you knew I loved you. I thank God that I wrote all of those notes in the cards to you over the years. I am overwhelmed with sadness and joy at the same time as I remember you reading them and crying (or trying not to and inevitably failing). In my life nothing could make me cry more than watching you cry.
Dad, I feel like I can't mess up anymore. You may be able to how me spiritually, but you can't be there physically to rescue me. You have done a wonderful job of preparing me for the difficulties and the joys of life, but I feel lost without you anyway. I am trying to live life one day at a time and not to obsess about the times to come when I will miss you so. I worked on the yard in the searing heat all day on Father's Day; it was ok -- I tried not to think too much and Haley and Jackson worked to make it a nice day, but I longed for you. The holidays will be tough. I have stayed sober through it all, Dad. Thank you for that; I know that I could not have done so without you helping me. I'll try to be more in touch with my spirituality -- you know that's not easy for me. I'll try not to take the world on my shoulders all the time.
When I got the call at two in the morning that the paramedics were at the house trying to revive you, that they were taking you to Trinity Lutheran, I knew. I jumped in the car and raced in after Haley begged me to be careful, to be safe. Though I came in racing, I knew. I don't know how, but I knew that you were gone. I know that it is good that you didn't have to suffer a long and lingering illness or death. I know, but if one more person tells me that I might explode. Dad, it may be selfish, but I might have bought some more time. You were too young and too vital to go so soon, not at 61.
Dad, please remember all the things that I told you before and after you left this life. I know it was right after you left this life for the next, but remember at the hospital, right after, when I held your hand and talked to you, remember when Mom came and we talked to you, remember an hour or two later, after I sent everyone away and held you and talked some more. Remember at the funeral home, for the family visit after everyone left, and remember when they closed the casket and I said "Goodnight Daddy, I love you." I love you so deeply. As I sit here typing this and crying, I see your smiling face, I feel your big solid slap on the back, I feel your bear hug and hear you say "I love you." You were the King. Your crown prince loves you and misses you. Thanks for telling me that you loved me virtually every day of my life. I know I gave you my thank you's when I said goodbye, but if you don't remember in the commotion of moving on: thank you for football, for coaching me, teaching me, taking me to games from the time I was eighteen months, for Notre Dame, Army-Navy, Rockhurst; thank you for the zoo, for the yaks; thank you for the little red fire engine that was so hard to assemble; thank you for your sobriety; thank you for my sobriety; thank you for golf; thank you for late night movies, for letting me stay up late with my Dad; thank you for teaching me that family always comes first, no matter what; thank you for giving me your name; thank you for always, always, always putting your children first; thank you for England; for eighteen years of private schools; thank you for always being there for me, no matter what; thank you for teaching me about everything, and for learning about the things that I was interested in that you didn't know about; thank you for your honesty, since I was a little boy; thank you for your friendship; thank you for respecting my opinion and talking to me like I was an adult even when I was little; thank you for sharing your life with me; thank you for teaching me about right and wrong and showing me the courage to step forward to do right and challenge wrong; thank you for the trips to the hospital, time and again, for this injury or illness or that; thank you for your warmth, for your hardy laugh, your twinkling eyes; thank you for teaching how to think, how to act; thank you for being a gentleman, and trying to teach me how to be one, even if it wasn't always in our nature; thank you for yard work; thank you for the circus; thank you for the thousands of sporting events, performances, plays and the like that you took me to; thank you for calling me at eight in the morning and razzing me about being hung over; thank you for your righteous indignation, I have never seen anyone else come close; thank you for the train set and the coin collection that we spent countless hours working on; thank you for demanding that I do my best; thank you for coaching and for teaching me how to coach; thank you for a lifetime of love, support, kindness, warmth and friendship; thank you for barbeque and Bryant's, for Stroud's, for exposing me to restaurants, theater, cultural events, sports -- for showing me the world; thank you for bikes and baseball gloves; thank you for football pools and gin rummy; thank you for teaching me how to gamble; thank you for teaching me how to win and how to lose with class; thank you for war movies and westerns, for John Wayne; thank you for not being perfect, but for always striving to be better, to grow, learn and develop; thank you for you, for being the man you are and were and for always loving me so well and so much. Thank you for the world that you brought me and for all the good things I am. I think about you every time I experience any of the things above; you brought them to me and to this day -- and for every day to come -- when I think of them or see or experience them, I think of you. And now I have to thank you for something that I would gladly give back, something I never wanted: thank you for leaving me with all the money that I will need to put my children through college. That's where it will go. So though you are not here, you should be proud, very proud of that indeed.
Every night before I put Jackson to bed, we pray to you; you know what we ask for. And every night, when I lay Jackson down and tuck him in, I say, "Goodnight Jackson, I love you." And so I said to you, when I last saw your earthly form "Goodnight Daddy, I love you." I do love you so. God bless and love you, I certainly do.
Goodnight Daddy, I love you,

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