“The way we deal with loss shapes our capacity to be present to
life more
 than anything else. 
The way we protect ourselves from
loss may be the way in which we distance ourselves from life.

We burn out not because we don’t care
but because we don’t grieve.”

Rachel Naomi Remen – “Kitchen Table Wisdom”

Dear Dad, You Lied…

Dad, you lied.  I was only around 4-years-old, but I distinctly remember making you promise (as only a sobbing, hysterical 4-year-old can), that you would never die.  Perhaps you thought that when I was grown, I wouldn’t remember your promise.  But, I do.  And on this first Father’s Day without you, I remember your tender heart – the heart that would make a promise, over 50 years ago, that you knew you could not keep.

Grief has a devious way of sneaking up on me sometimes – when I least expect it – like when I’m sitting at my desk on a Friday afternoon.  And although I work with grief-stricken patients and families each and every day – I’m not always so clear-minded when it comes to my own sorrow – my own thoughts of you.

As a hospice chaplain I tell grieving family members that our Bereavement Coordinator will be in touch with them and they should avail themselves to his support and wisdom.  So, since our hospice Bereavement Coordinator is also a friend, I call him and say, “I don’t think I know how to grieve for my dad.”  And he says I should write you a letter, so here it is.  Dear Dad, you lied…

It was different five years ago when mom died.  I had more things in common with mom.  We shared a love of music, of flowers, of writing.  You and I had fewer things in common, so I reached a little deeper into my memory, and these are the gems I came up with…

I remember walking down the sidewalk in town with you, long ago – wrapping my tiny fingers around your index finger, knowing that I was safe.  I remember sitting on your shoulders at the annual Christmas parade.  I remember that you saved your change so that, at the end of your work day, you could bring me a treat from the vending machine.  And, I recall your unending patience as you coached my girl’s fast-pitch softball team and taught me to pitch, hit, and field.  I remember you taking the team out for hamburgers, whether we won or lost.  I remember you taking me fishing at the lake and me hitting a hot spot and pulling out so many fish that you quickly re-baited my pole so I could get it back in as fast as possible.  We took a load of fish home that day!

Dad, I remember you as the gentle spirit in the family – the consistent quiet voice of kindness, who loved Auburn football, baseball, boxing, and old TV shows – especially Westerns and classic cartoons.

My final picture of you is one that I took during your last hospital stay, about a week before you left us.  It’s a close-up of my hand holding yours.  I don’t think you were even awake.  I told you I loved you, said goodbye, and ran out to the car to have a good cry.  But, it’s okay.  I’m sure I’ll think of more memories, and I really do forgive you for that lie…

It’s just that it’s the first Father’s Day without you here…

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Kim Chafee

I am a lover of the God who sings! I am a Christ-follower and an ordained minister married to the other Rev. Chafee (Scott), with two grown children and a multitude of pets. And, I love chocolate. Read more about me and the reason for this blog on my ABOUT page.

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1 Comment

  1. I miss my daddy too. I’m so sorry for your loss.

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