Goodbye Letters

I wrote something today that was important. In only the discomfort procrastinators can understand, I backed myself into an uncomfortable corner.

My father and I would have to leave for an event. Both of us would be required, dressed not in jeans, preferably only one of us wearing a hat. Ideally some lipstick would lend appeal but I had to hurry.

And so I was in crunch mode to write something. While I enjoy buying greeting cards – they are so pretty, the card stock so intoxicating – they are mass produced.

First one word.
Then another.

I would strip the words away to start over.

The sentiment was there, grief, but my words were like lead. Sending something so heavy would serve no purpose.

And so I thought until it hurt. I would write.

I would delete.

And then I realized the obvious was in front of me. So I wrote about that. I cannot tell you what I wrote.

It is for a small, intimate audience of one.

But before that person my father read it. I was sending it on behalf of our family. I had asked him a question for guidance. It was time for his review.

I had never been so nervous.

I started to read it in my voice but could not finish. I wanted my father to absorb the simple cadences as he heard them. Not as I pushed them.

And so I tapped softly on my MacBook Air to prevent the auto lock. One, two small suggestions. A question.

And he nodded, “This is nice.”

He was so quiet when he spaced out the sentence. I strained to hear him.

I stood from beside him as I had hovered on my heels. Finally I exhaled.

Moving to a chair to add his touches my fingertips moved quickly. There was no time. I took a deep breath and started to read.

My voice lower than he is used to hearing. Slowly I went, pausing where I felt the emphasis should be. The paragraph breaks there…but I had left so little time. One last sanity check couldn’t hurt.

I wasn’t expecting my father to still be awake. He often nods off in the middle of the day. (He at least is sheepish when you poke fun at him.)

And so when he said, “How long did that take to write?” I was surprised.

“Not long. Too long. I don’t know.”

His chin moved down.

At that moment I wondered if anyone would take the time to send grief cards. One day that awful moment will be heavy in my heart.

Had my story upset him? Why was he so quiet?

I’m not sure. But he insisted on changing first before delivering it. This was important to him.

He is important to me.

I don’t know what to write to him.


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