Saturday, March 29, 2014

Dear Dad

Dear Dad, 
It is the night before your services.  Well, the morning of.  It's late, and I can't sleep.
I don't want to sleep.  I want to talk to you.  Excuse me if I ramble and make no sense.
It's been one hell of a hell of a past ten months for you...for us.
Oh Dad, I miss you so much.  I've missed you for a long time now.  
I sat here last night, at the computer, gathering pictures from years past. 
And I lost it.
I cried and cried and cried.  Loud tears.  Angry tears.  Sad tears.  Brokenhearted tears.

I screamed "No!" until I couldn't scream it anymore.  I told you I loved you and missed you one hundred and three times.  I cried because all of the photos staring back at me were ones of the man I had trouble remembering since last May.  But there you were...
Your distinct smile - a smirk almost.  Your full face, a nice head of hair, meat on your bones and clothes on your back.

You always cleaned up nice.

It's been so tough, seeing you in so much pain...especially these last few months.
I remember the day of your heart attack...the day after Memorial Day. Piper was just shy of turning eight weeks old and had just slept through the night for the first time since being born.   
She must have known what was coming.
I had just laid her down for an afternoon nap when Steve came home out of the blue.  I swear I knew what he was going to say.  He had such a look in his eyes.  He told me the news and I fell to the floor, trembling and sobbing.
It wasn't much different this Tuesday.  
Tuesday, March 25th was the saddest day of my life...the saddest day of my brother's life.
Oh Dad, I know this past year has been beyond tough for you.  I know how hard you fought.  
There were many times I'd tell myself to stop my grumbling about being tired or achy or hungry.
I'd remind myself of the battle you were fighting.  I'd think of the strength it must have taken to get through each day, even each minute sometimes, for you.
There were so many times last summer that I wanted to sit and write to you.  But I just couldn't.  I wasn't there yet.  And now, I feel like I could write until the sun comes up.

I remember late May, being scared we were going to lose you days after your heart attack.
I remember the doctors and nurses not putting the odds in your favor. 
I'll admit it, Dad.  I thought you were going to die.
I didn't know how to process it all...
I was finally a mother after years and years of fertility chaos.  My dream finally came true and I was just figuring it all out.  And then just days before Piper turned two months, I thought I was going to lose my father.  Talk about going from the most extreme joy, to the most intense fear and pain.
I was lost inside, but oh, how my daughter saved me.
She's been the light in all this darkness.  I've sung "This Little Light Of Mine" to her every day since your heart attack.  Mom calls her "the bright spot" in all of this.  She's certainly right.

 I remember the moment you met Piper.  You walked into my room so quietly.  You said "Hi, Maria" and kissed me.  You looked down at Piper, and without a word, sat down so you could hold her.  You were silent for a good five minutes, just gazing at her tiny face as you held her swaddled body.  You sniffled the entire time.
You didn't have to say a word.  I knew what you were thinking.
You were happy she was finally here.  You were happy Steve and I were finally parents.
And I bet you were thinking back to thirty-one years ago, when I was just a baby.

Steve always told me that he could just see the crazy love you had for me by the way you looked at me.  And now, I see him look at our daughter that very same way.

 You always told me I was beautiful.  You always loved my long hair.  (Please don't be mad at me, I chopped it all off a week and a half ago.)  
I remember every Sunday, after C.C.D. (and after you literally having to scream and pry me out of bed to get movin') you'd take me to the "corner store" in town and let me pick out a few treats.  Is it weird that I can remember those times so very vividly.  You'd run into friends and acquaintances and introduce me every single time, as if they didn't remember you had a daughter.  You were proud of me.  And even as a little girl, I knew it.

We both know growing up wasn't always easy for me and Nicholas.  You and mom certainly weren't what most would consider a match made in heaven.  But you know, Dad, the lessons I've learned from you and Mom...they've made me who I am today.  The good and the bad ones.  I truly wouldn't wish for it to be any other way.  I grew up fast.  But I grew up strong.  And I have both of you to thank for that.  How would I ever get through all the trials life had in store for me?  How would I get through this very trial right now?  I didn't speak to you for about five years.  And please don't be upset with me for saying this, but I'm glad it all happened the way it did.  Because these past ten years were the best ones with you. 

 Forgiveness is one powerful s.o.b.

I had to throw in a good old s.o.b. in here somewhere.  I mean, it was one of your favorite outbursts.
I'll miss your signature "Nick Foresta cursing and swearing."  I can count on more than five hands, the people that will.
You had such a way about you.  In fact, I've often said, I don't know anyone like you.  But that's not a bad thing.  Different is good.  Different leaves an impression.  And I know you have, on so many people.  I can't tell you how many people have told me stories about you this week...stories of your childhood...when you were in grade school...when you met Mom.
You know the main word that has been used to describe you...


With gentle and quiet coming in second and third place. 

Now, I think many of us can laugh our asses off when we hear the word "quiet," because let's face it...
Sometimes, you were far from quiet. 
But I know exactly what they're saying.  You were so nice.  Maybe even too nice at times.
You could never discipline me or Nicholas, no matter how hard you tried.  And maybe that wasn't the best way to raise us sometimes, but oh, you were such a softie.  
I brought a big, giant F home in Chemistry...Mom wanted to send me to Camp Dumbo.  And hugged me and told me "It's okay, try better next time, Honey!"
I'm actually laughing out loud right now.  Because, you were so damn nice, Dad.  You had such a gentle heart. You treated me as if I was a Daddy's girl, though I never was.
You loved me, Dad.  And I always, always knew it.

Speaking of that s.o.b., forgiveness...
You and Mom taught me the greatest lesson in forgiveness.
Your marriage wasn't roses and rainbows, your divorce was downright ugly, but the years that followed...
They were kinda magical, I guess you could say.
I never imagined that you both would walk me down the aisle one day (without killing each other).  In fact, I never imagined myself walking down the aisle at aspect of the whole wedding thing that "weirded me out."
But with you on my right and Mom on my left, I did it.  And I'm so grateful
 I had both of you to lean on.

You might not have been the perfect match as husband and wife, but these past years...years where I've seen you two not only be civil, but be loving towards each other...
They've meant so very much to me, and I know, to Nicholas, too.
Mom was by your side these past ten months.  She admired your strength to keep on fighting.
She kept so much faith.

That son of yours.  He loves you so so SO much.  Steve always referred to you and Nicholas as the "muppets on the balcony" - bickering back and forth and arguing about anything and everything.  But, you were still the best of friends.  You two were the same person. 
 Same name.  Same gentle heart.
I'm so proud of Nicholas.  I know you know how hard he fought for you these past months.  
 I can promise you that if Steve and I ever have a son one day, his middle name will be Nicholas.  In fact, I told you that a few minutes after you took your last breath on Tuesday.  I'll let Nicholas be the "only" real Nicholas.  After all, he is Uncle Nicholas.  Sweet, Uncle Nicholas.

I miss you, Dad. 
There are just so many memories...
I'll always remember you driving me and my friends the mall, dance class, late-night grocery store runs when I was having a sleepover.  
I remember your music always blasting and being embarrassed.  It was either ultra cheesy, elevator-style jazz or hee haw country.  And now look at your daughter...she has a blog called 
"Every Day Is A Country Song."
I always loved your music.  I always loved the way you let it totally sweep you away.
I loved the way you'd rock in your rocking chair and sing so horribly off key.   

I'll always remember back-to-school shopping when I was a teenager.  You'd ask me how much I needed.  I'd give you a number and you'd come up with it...even if it was more than you had to give.
You always asked me "Is that enough?"  And even though I was a teenager, I always knew it was your way of asking if you were enough.
You were, Dad.

I never once questioned your love for me.
You were a hard worker.  A good man.  And great father.

Thank you for my life.
Thank you for my stubbornness - it has helped me more than it has hurt me these past years.
Thank you for my brother.

Thank you for food on the table, clothes on our backs and a roof over our heads growing up.
Thank you for welcoming me and Steve into your home six years ago, so we could save money.
Thank you for gladly carting my butt around wherever I needed to go when I was a teenager.
Thank you for allowing me and Nicholas to make up immature nicknames and songs about you when we were younger.  It was our way of dealing with the chaos, and you took it like a champ.
 Thank you for my loud mouth (though, I think you can agree, I get that from Mom, too)!
Thank you for letting me know I could always come to you, no matter what.
Thank you for loving me, Dad.

I know your life was full of loss and lost your parents within years of each other, when you were just a teenager/young adult.  I know their loss is something that stuck with you always.  I remember all the Christmases that haunted you, reminding you of your father's tragic death.  I remember Mom crying at Nani's funeral as we said our final goodbyes.  And I remember crying on you, as you shed tears. 
 I'll never forget the words you kept repeating - "It never goes away!"
And I'm willing to bet you're right...I will always miss you.  That, I know will never go away.
But neither will my love for you.
And neither will the memories.

 I'm so so very thankful you and Piper got to spend the time you did together.  
You are her Papa Bear.
Every visit, no matter how badly you were hurting, you'd smile so big at her...and she, right back at you.  You'd always tell Steve that you wished you could hold her.  But always when I left the room, so it wouldn't upset me.  I always wished so badly that you could truly feel her in your arms.
But I cling to the times that you did.  I'm so thankful for those moments.

Dad, when you had your heart attack last May and I feared I was losing you right then and there, I remember crying to Steve every single night, for weeks straight.
I would tell him how badly I wished I could just lay beside you and tell you everything that was in my heart.
This past Tuesday, I got to do just that.  You took your last breaths, as the people who love you most surrounded you and shouted out their love for you.  
I laid next to you, cupped your face and told you I loved you.  I know you heard me.  I know you heard us all.  That is such a deep comfort.

I know you're no longer in pain.  Your body, mind, soul, heart...they are no longer aching.
You are somewhere beautiful.
I know you're with your mother and father.
And I know you're happy.
Because you're there...
You are at peace.


"The Very Last Country Song" - Sugarland

 "If memories didn't last so long
If nobody did nobody wrong
If we knew what we had before it was gone
If every road led back home
This would be
The very last country song"


Life is a big, sometimes messy, beautiful book of songs.
And I'll never stop singing, Dad.

I love you.
My love for you will never, ever go away.

All my love...your daughter,


Steve said...

This was beautiful Maria. I know today will be the toughest day of our lives together. It will far surpass everything that drove you to start this blog, but like all those times I know you will gather all of your strength and then some and fight through while looking out for everyone else. I will always be next to you when you need me, and I am so proud of the woman/mother you have become, and I know Dad is too.

We WILL get through this, just as we always have honey. I love you.

Janet Off Kilter said...

This brought me to my knees...beautiful. What an amazing tribute to what I'd imagine was an equally amazing man. My thoughts and my love are with you Maria. Xoxo

JP said...

This is possibly the most beautiful thing I have ever read. Again, I am so sorry for your loss. Truly, I know this kind of pain well, and I am sorry you now know it too.
Bless you and Steve and Piper and your brother and mom. You are all in my prayers.

Maria said...

I am so so sorry for your loss, Maria. Saying prayers that you and your family find peace in this time of deep sorrow.

Infertile625 said...

I'm not even sure if I can see through my tears to comment. What a beautiful tribute to your Daddy. I can tell you first hand that he's right, it never goes away. It just changes. You'll see what I mean. The photos are gorgeous. You are lucky to have so many. The one of you and him at the beach, you both look do much like Piper. My condolences, all my love and big hugs to you and you're family. I am so sorry.

Rian Eidson said...

This was truly beautiful, Maria. I have tears pouring down my face, my heart breaks for you and your family. However, I'm glad that your daddy is no longer in pain. I will be praying for you sweet Maria. I pray The Lord holds you in his arms as soothes the pain in your heart. Love you!

Anonymous said...

My heart hurts for you. I am so sorry for your loss, beautiful lady. So sorry for what your sweet little Piper will miss out on as she grows up. But I know that you've got some wonderful memories of your daddy and she will no doubt know him as well as you did and she will know he loved her. Sending you some major hugs. Again, I'm just so darn sorry . XO

Aleisha McDaniel said...

I love you I love you I love you. Wish I could hug you and kiss you today. Praying for you!

Rebecca said...

What a great letter/memory to remember your dad by. I'm so so sorry for your loss. XXXOOOO

Olivia said...

Had to wipe away a lot of tears so I could type and see clearly...

I'm so so sorry Maria.

When Jack was born, someone gave me a picture that said, "A new baby is God's way of saying the world should go on."

Let Piper be your light, and hold onto those you love. They will help you through this.

I'm so sorry you are hurting, I always wish there was something I could say to help, but I know such a great loss like a father- there is absolutely NOTHING anyone can say to make it better.


Virginia said...

Oh Maria!
This post was so beautifully written, It brought tears to my eyes and took forever to get thru it. Your father sounds like a truly amazing man and I think the proof in that is you. I've been thinking of you and your family since hearing the news. I wish you all strength and love as you deal with your loss
<3 <3

Anonymous said...

I am crying. Your words for your father are so beautiful, Maria. I am so sorry for your loss. If only when we die will our children write something as you have done with such intensity and love as a tribute to us. Kim from BCN

E and R said...

Absolutely beautiful post Maria. I am so very sorry for your loss. You and your family are in my prayers.

lovejoy_31 said...

OK. Cried through the whole thing. I am so very sorry for your loss. It brings back so many emotions. Your dad was right, it never does go away. Much love to you and your entire family.

Jess @ said...

Oh Maria...I am so SO sorry for your loss, your family's loss, Piper's loss. Huge hugs to you all and lots of prayers during this dreadfully difficult time.

Tracy said...

I really should have known better than to read this post at work! Beautiful words and a beautiful tribute to your Dad. I am so sorry for your loss. Sending thoughts and prayers to your whole family.

mail4rosey said...

I always cry over here, dagnabitwoman! I'm sorry to hear your daddy lost his battle now. It's so wonderful you had your time together. He sounds wonderful, and so do you. Heartfelt hugs to you and prayers for you and your family.

Barbara Haldeman said...

Your dad was a true "gentle man". I remember him living with his Grandmom and guessing he was just out of his teens.
Christmas at your Uncle Dave's, he would always visit and sometimes be there for dinner.
A few memories............just so sorry he isn't around to make more.
Love and our sincere sympathy
Barbara & Vic. ( Aunt Lorrie's sister)

Brittany said...

I have read this three different times now and every time I start balling. Maria, Steve, and Piper...I am so, so sorry for your loss. I can't even begin to imagine what you're going through but please know that there are so many people thinking of and praying for you. You are loved by so many! Your Dad sounds like the sweetest man. I have no doubt that he's Pippy's guardian angel now. These pictures are such a treasure and I know Piper will love having them when she's older. We are sending huge hugs and thinking of y'all every single day. You are so strong to write this post, are truly my inspiration. Your words are absolutely beautiful and this is a perfect tribute to your Dad.

Lots of love and our deepest sympathy,
Zach, Britt, and Bear

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry about your father's death. I lost my father after a brief, sudden illness in January and the grief is overwhelming at times.
This beautiful post is a wonderful tribute.

Faith said...

I am so, so sorry Maria. This post just moved me to tears and I wish I had something to say to comfort you and to make it all better. But I know that it won't so know that I'm praying and thinking of you and your family.

Anna said...

So very sorry for your loss.

This is such a beautiful tribute to your dad. <3

Heather Nelsen said...

This is such a sweet, heartfelt post, Maria. And I loved reading Steve's comment in response. I'm so glad you were able to get all of this down and hope that you are coping a little more easily with each passing day. Thinking about you, friend!

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