An Open Letter to the Papa That Never Was, But Always Will Be

Today was messy.

It was another day that started like the rest that I am always thankful for. Our family of four was up before the sun rose. My son may or may not have been up and fussing a few times during the night. I spent the majority of the day chasing our littles every needs before my own, only to collapse on the couch a time or two in between for the short seconds they allowed me. I cleaned up crushed goldfish and wiped snotty noses more times than I’d like to admit. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like, if I could reach for the phone and spill my messy day thoughts onto you, the sound of your voice would make it instantly better. Even on the messy days I still think of you, and wish you were here for it. I wish you were present to see the good, the bad… all of it. I wouldn’t want you missing out on any details. I’ve decided to write you an open letter, because even though you’re not around you’ll always be their “Papa”.

I think of you.

There was a time or two I drove today just to get my son to nap. I settled for a car nap but I knew where the route would lead me. I left in the mess of a teething baby and a tired toddler but I found myself stumbling upon you. On the messiest of days, I still long for your encouragement and find myself overlooking the serenity of the pond in the cemetery where you now rest. I swore I would try my hardest to become half of the parent that you and mom were for me while I was growing up.

You’ve inspired our, “I love you” that walk before our daily goodbyes.

You’ve given me the constant reminder that comes attached with your missing presence, to love harder. I’ve now chosen to love harder, love braver, and be fearless when it comes to living in the moment with my most loved ones. I need to make your loss acceptable by living the moment; enjoying the time I have with our children – I will never take them for granted because of you.

I wonder if I’ve made you proud.

I graduated high school (we joked that day would never come, but I knew how proud you were that it did), went on to achieving my dream career, and meeting the guy who would make you proud. I married that guy and even though you weren’t there for it, I could feel you next to me, every step of that day witnessing what we had become. When our babies came and the tough stuff flooded over us, you were always in the back of my mind – encouraging me. Especially on the hard days, you kept me going. I stumble when our daughter asks of heaven and what it’s made up of. I only wish her description of sunshine and marshmallows is accurate, for your sake of course. The thought of describing you in a world different than ours, reminds me of what could have been or what is no longer. A decade later, my heart still aches for their grandpa.

I miss you even on the messy days.

Even on the days my temper has run short and I’ve questioned a few actions I made as a parent that day, I still find myself missing you and wishing you were here to be a part of that. The meltdowns, the embarrassing moments, all of it. Holidays and traditions still contain a soft spot in my heart, because in the back of my mind I’m always missing you. I’m still taking your absence one day at a time, and remembering it’s okay sometimes to not be okay.

I wonder what kind of grandparent you would have been.

I know you would have welcomed us with open arms, any time of any day. You would have given our toddler the extra treats and I would have rolled my eyes, or looked the other way pretending not to see. Our kids would have coined you a silly nickname, much like their other grandparents. You would have loved the quirkiness in your granddaughter with how she loves spooky and scary things like we once did. 

The fact is, you’ll always be their grandpa.

You may not have been earth side to witness our marriage, or our babies entrance into the world, but I could always feel you were a part of it. You’ve never been her grandpa on this earth in the flesh, but you’ll always be her Papa. I’ve felt you when our daughter stared off into space, only to follow with the talk of angels and how they are among us. I try to explain how you are a part of that special gang, but I feel myself choking back and mentioning how much you love her instead.

I will still take my kids down memory lane with my obnoxiously long stories of my memories of you, just so they feel like they grew up with you too. 

There is a special place in our hearts, and you will always be in it.

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