Dear Dad, I’m 44

Hey, Dad. I wish you were here.

But I’m hoping you’re up there, is that even right? “Up there?” Maybe you’re beside me? Maybe that’s why sometimes I don’t feel as alone, as if I could reach out and hug you, and maybe that’s why other times I have an overwhelming feeling of just wanting to go home? Happiness with you was my home. Anywhere, up there, beside me, whatever, I hope Heaven is a groovy place. I hope you’re watching the Cowboys and the Rangers, maybe playing Spades or a game of catch. The latter is difficult to think about because of the way and circumstances in which you died. Died. Passed on. I think I like “passed on.” Passed on to something better. It still rips my heart apart knowing you were playing baseball and enjoying life, no idea you were about to take your last breath. It seems unfair, in a way, the lack of a warning. No family with you. Just playing a game of baseball, falling… and gone. Just gone. People can say “passed on,” but you’re gone. That’s what I know for certain. Everything changed on September 8, 1992.

Sometimes, I become quite angry we didn’t get to say goodbye to you, but would I really prefer you to have had a longer type of illness, and wither away, seeing you in pain? No. It’s best to know you left doing something you loved. You were only 44 years old.

I’m 44 years old today, Dad.

And I’m scared. Honestly, I didn’t even expect to make it to 44. Now, here I am, and I have this dread. I’m scared of 44 because of your early death and that of your own Dad’s. Maybe you tried to be a great Dad to us because you lost your Dad far too early as well? I wish our youngest sister remembered you better. She was only 4 years old, though. I’m glad our other sister, closer to my age, has day to day memories of you as well.

I’m scared of being 44. I’m scared I’ll leave my son far too early. And who would take care of my Mom? I’m afraid of the pain, I’ll be honest. Mostly, I’m afraid of the unknown. Whatever fills that vast unknown, I know that someday, many days and years from now, after I see my son marry and have his own children, I know you’ll be there waiting for me, welcoming. And if it should be sooner that I show up, please be there to hold me and tell me everyone I leave behind will be okay.

I can’t wait to hug you again.

I miss you. Send me a sign if you’re able. Love you.