two years ago today

two years ago today | the merry gourmet

Dear Dad,

Writing you a letter this way – by blog post on the internet – may be a bit silly, but you and I have always been the letter writing sort, and writing letters (or blog posts) is so cathartic. I know you can’t read this, but it’s good for me to get the words out. Or maybe you can read this. You’ve always been able to do just about everything you ever wanted to do, and if you wanted to read this, I believe you’ll find a way.

It was two years ago today – the 27th of February, 2014 – that you died. I remember being angry with you that you waited until we had all left the hospice, waited until the early dawn hours when we were all sleeping. I wish you’d waited until we could have kissed your warm cheek one last time. I wish you’d waited until Tina arrived from Chicago. She really wanted to see you one last time.

I often tell myself that you’re watching us from wherever you are right now. I like the idea of that. When I dream, you’re frequently there, and I wonder if this is your way of letting me know you’re okay. Usually in those dreams, I’m trying to go with you somewhere, and I can’t quite get there before waking up. Or, I’m trying to speak to you and can’t get the words out in a way that you can hear them. But always in my dreams, you are able to walk again and you look whole and healthy, with no evidence of the strokes or the dementia that left you debilitated. And always, you smile at me in a way that lights up your entire face.

The kids are playing basketball at the park with Sam as I write this. You’d be proud of how they are turning out. Maddie is nearly as tall as I am. They’re both beautiful, inside and out, and they are bright and curious. You would absolutely love spending time with them. You all would have the most wonderful conversations, and I know they would love to hear your stories about growing up in Louisville. Maddie might drive you crazy when she rolls her eyes at you, but I’d remind you that she’s in 6th grade and that is almost part of the uniform. Oliver really only remembers you being sick and in the wheelchair, but Maddie remembers you as you were, when you were whole, when you were you.

I want to tell you about things that you have missed. Like, that the Gators have a new football coach as of the 2015 season – Jim McElwain. The team did so much better under him than they’ve done in the two or three years before. You’d have liked watching the wins over Tennessee and Georgia in particular. We gave up one set of season tickets – the Touchdown Terrace ones – and now sit where you and Mom sat – though we did move the seats down a bit. We don’t like being in the nosebleed zone, even though I know how partial you were to those original seats (sorry).

I was promoted last year, from assistant professor to associate professor. It was a big deal to me, something I worked really hard for. I was also the first woman in the history of my division (oncology) to ever be promoted. I know you would have been so proud. I would have loved to have felt your chest-crushing hug after I told you in person. I’m certain there would have been one.

You’d be all worked up if you knew what’s going on in politics right now. Listening to you argue with your friends and with Uncle Ken about presidential candidates would be such great entertainment. I would give anything to hear your thoughts on Donald Trump. It makes me chuckle just thinking of the profanity you’d use.

We’re planning some great trips this year. Sam and I are spending a long weekend in Charleston, and we’re taking two family trips with the kids. We’re heading to New Orleans in the spring and to London and Paris in the summer. Last year, we vacationed in Glacier National Park and Banff. You probably heard me tell Sam several times, “Dad would have loved this.” I’m sure you’ll hear me say it again, especially when we visit Saint-Chapelle in Paris. I’m told the stained glass is stunning, and I know that you will be on my mind as I stand in that church, looking up.

Since you died, Mom has struggled. It’s not been easy for her, not with the caregiving she does for grandmother and with the issues that come up with Clay. And issues always come up. I’m not sure you’d be pleased at the way things have turned out. I’m not, but there’s nothing I can do about it.

I want you to know that I’m okay, though. I’m dealing with grief in my own way. I thought it would get easier over these past two years, but really, it just gets…different. I never thought losing a parent would be such a hard thing to bear. Even though I’m surrounded by family and friends who are supportive and care about me and are there when I need something, I feel very, very alone without you here. I miss you.

I love you, Dad. Maybe I’ll see you tonight in my dreams? I really hope so.


Merry Jennifer

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15 Responses to “the nurse”

  1. Gail — October 3, 2014 @ 10:46 am

    This is just one of the reasons why I love you. xoxoxo

  2. Maria Raynal — October 3, 2014 @ 11:22 am

    Me too. That inevitable intersection where life, death, hope and heartbreak collide … it sneaks up on us in so many ways.

  3. Cookin Canuck — October 3, 2014 @ 11:30 am

    You took me by surprise with this, MJ, and I’m having difficulties fighting back the tears. Thank you for sharing your emotions in such a raw, honest way. I can imagine that your own experiences make you even better at your job. That man is very lucky to have you as his doctor.

  4. Carolyn — October 3, 2014 @ 11:40 am

    I was going to say pretty much exactly what Dara said — about the tears, the honesty, the way that living your life fully can only make you better and better at your job. Instead I”ll just say: you’re wonderful. xx

  5. Paula — October 3, 2014 @ 11:42 am

    For many, it is hard to put words to our grief. I have so much respect and admiration for you and for your ability to finds words that so eloquently and meaningfully convey what you are feeling. Your writing is intensely beautiful, much like your spirit I’m sure.

  6. Susan - ofeverymoment — October 3, 2014 @ 11:53 am

    As a nurse, it warms my heart to read of such compassion by a person in my profession. As a caregiver who has lost a special person when being cared for in a hospital, I understand how hard it was for you to enter that IMC.
    Your father’s illness gave you insight that cannot be learned in medical school, and it is his legacy to all your patients. Thank you for writing this beautiful piece.

  7. Sabrina Modelle — October 3, 2014 @ 12:19 pm

    You are pretty freaking amazing. That is all.

  8. Liz Larkin — October 3, 2014 @ 1:18 pm

    I love your writing, MJ. it’s heartfelt, and true, and so lovely.

  9. Janis — October 3, 2014 @ 2:47 pm

    you are such a good writer.

  10. Mimi — October 3, 2014 @ 6:38 pm

    I just wish there were more female doctors. A beautiful post.

  11. cherie — October 3, 2014 @ 6:57 pm

    You are so compassionate because you are so aware of your OWN feelings. No matter the outcome, you are a blessing to your patients. I am very grateful to know there are doctors like you in the world.

    I’m typing through tears, wishing I could give you a hug myself. Yet another reminder that everyone is struggling.

  12. Liz @ The Lemon Bowl — October 3, 2014 @ 9:29 pm

    Youe strength and vulnerability is such an inspiration. Xoxo

  13. Rachel — October 5, 2014 @ 8:00 am

    You are incredible. Patients are lucky to have you as their physician.
    Know this was hard.

  14. Laura — October 8, 2014 @ 9:05 pm

    So heartfelt. Beautiful. Thank you.

  15. Mallory+@forkvsspoon — October 14, 2014 @ 10:32 am

    You are amazing. I have no other words. This post, like so many others of yours, has left me in awe. Thank you for being so vulnerable.

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