Dear Papa Bear,
It’s been ten years since I touched the warmth of your hand. Ten years since I heard you breathe, sharing the same air as me. Ten years since I saw you alive, though even longer since I saw you truly living. Ten years since I became a different woman–a fatherless child.
However, that phrase is not entirely accurate, because I haven’t been without you a single day in ten years.
You’re there in the mirror: the shape of my hands, the blue of my eyes, my oversized nose, my lined forehead. (Each time I start to hate the latter two I remember where I got them and my judgment softens.)
You’re there when I randomly reach out to a friend just to let them know they’re on my mind.
You’re there when I greet the granddaughter you never met, “Hey, beauty.” You’re there when I ignite her laugh with silly voices and unnecessary accents.
You’re there when I drum my hands on the steering wheel and sing along to “Mr. Blue Sky.”
You’re there when I scoop my nightly ice cream.
You’re there when my restless soul finds ease on a winding drive through the mountains.
You’re there when I write words of encouragement to someone I love. You’re there when I forget to encourage myself with equal enthusiasm.
I am much of who I am because you were who you were. Your body may be ten years gone, but the essence of you lives on in the essence of me. Good bad or ugly, the things I do, the habits I fall into, the ways I react, the priorities I choose, and the wounds I pick at or heal are influenced by my life as your daughter.
By nature. By nurture. I am forever of you. Pieces of you forever in me.
And I love you so…