The year before my father died, I mentioned to someone that we were not speaking.
This friend asked me a Question that turned it all around: “If there were two doors, back to back, and both were closed, what if you opened the door facing you, just a crack, and saw that the other door was open just a crack. And when you looked more, you saw the person on that side was your Dad?”
It was all I needed to know. I immediately wrote Dad a letter that started out: “How can I tell you I love you? Let me find some ways.” And I proceeded to tell him I loved him for always planting such wonderful gardens for us to eat from, and that I felt that is why I’m so healthy.
My stepmother wrote back, but she wouldn’t mail it until he wrote something, “anything,” in the space she left for him. No one could say “no” to her, thank God, so even though it took 3 weeks, he finally picked up the pen and I got my first letter from my Dad.
Waaaaaayyyy precious! How he signed it was better than gold:
“I love you, Dad.”
The first time I heard him tell me those three words: It was all I needed, even if I never heard it again. The only thing I’m more thankful for is knowing that he “heard” me say it to him, too.
I have a mile-long list this morning. That really feels good. But if I could only select one thing to tell, it would be the moment etched in me deeply when I was with him a couple days before he died in ICU. We each only got 2 minutes a day to go in and visit him.
Here’s that last moving visit:
“Dad, you seem more ‘up’ today.”
“Well, when you’re up against a wall, you can either slide down or stand up.”
And then, something I never thought I’d see: he was just overcome with tears and emotion, and it was urgent for him to make the effort to get these words out through his choking tears:
“I’m just asking God to let me live so I can write a letter to each person and tell them how much I appreciate them.”
I’ve been unwrapping more “layers” of this Great Gift every year.
Why do tears of Joy feel so painful?
-Father’s Day, 2014