Lessons Learned

Dear Dad,

It has officially been 8 years since you last hugged me. 8 years since you told me to have a good day at school and that you loved me. 8 years full of questions without answers.

I know you were sick and struggling with a lot of things, and I also know you thought what you were doing was right and best for everyone. But you were wrong. You choosing to end your life was the worst thing for all of us.

You’ve already missed so many things. You never got to see any of your kids get their drivers licenses, graduate, or get married. You’ll miss out on your children-in-law, grandkids, and grand-dogs. You weren’t here to disapprove of my first tattoo… or my second, third, or fourth (2 of them are in your honor). You weren’t even there to dance with me or my sister at our junior proms. You’ve missed so much already, and there will only be more.

For at least the first few years, I blamed you. I’m not proud to admit that, but it’s true. I didn’t understand why or how you could leave your wife and 4 kids without any warning or explanation. We all had to grow up and adjust way too quickly — the instant we heard what had happened.

Now I understand that it wasn’t you who made that irreversible choice; it was the various disorders you were trying to deal with alone, going untreated. The alcoholism, insomnia, undiagnosed anxiety, and apparent depression. I wish every day that you had gotten help, that you were still around to shoot the breeze with, but losing you also taught me some valuable lessons.

I learned to be cautious around and weary of alcohol, often times being the designated driver. I didn’t even drink at all until after I was 21 and could legally do so. I learned to deal with my feelings when I’m anxious and talk about it instead of internalizing. And the most important thing I learned was that, no matter what’s going on in my life, no matter the circumstances, if I’m ever feeling overwhelmed and like there’s only 1 way out, I will seek help.

I’ve never felt the way you must have, and I hope I never do, but I also refuse to ever be the reason that another person would feel the way I was feeling for so many years.

Every day I miss you. I miss our talks when you would drive me home from school, the debates we would get into about current events and politics. I miss your smile and your goofy personality. I miss having someone to hug every single day, and I even miss that damn Cryptkeeper mask you would scare us with every chance you got.

I just wish you were still here.

Miss you and love you.

Always.

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