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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34 Responses to “regrets”

  1. Janis — February 22, 2014 @ 7:13 pm

    I wish I knew what to say. I wish I could give you a hug. I know how it feels and I am hurting for my friend. Take care of yourself through this sweetie.

  2. Aimee — February 22, 2014 @ 7:32 pm

    I am so so sorry, my friend. Please know I am thinking of you and praying for strength for you.

  3. Sabrina Modelle — February 22, 2014 @ 7:45 pm

    I am so very sorry about your dad’s stroke. I am thinking of you and your family.
    Thank you (as always) for your honesty and raw truth on this blog.

  4. Elizabeth — February 22, 2014 @ 7:48 pm

    Prayers are with you and your family.

  5. Lana — February 22, 2014 @ 8:03 pm

    MJ, your post brought me to tears. My father suffered a massive stroke last fall and no one thought he would recover. Being a tough old goat with a very strong heart, he was declared a miracle and sent home. But even though he is alive, he is not the same dignified, handsome man he used to be just a year ago. And just like you, I regret my impatience with him, my lack of time to listen to his “digressions” and memories, my selfish, silent desires that he would find someone else to bore with his interminable stories. It hurts and it will hurt for a long time.

    I wish I could give you a big bear hug and cry with you right now. Kiss your dad’s cheek for me, too. and wish him peace.



  6. Lisa @ Garnish with Lemon — February 22, 2014 @ 8:07 pm

    Merry Jennifer, many prayers for you and your family during this difficult time. It’s so hard to watch our parents suffer. Sending lots of hugs and peaceful prayers your way.

  7. Aces — February 22, 2014 @ 8:08 pm

    Oh, Merry, so sorry. Being a physician in instances like this sucks. I hope for the best for your dad.

  8. Beth S — February 22, 2014 @ 8:25 pm

    So sorry to hear about your father. My thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family.

  9. Jen Schall — February 22, 2014 @ 8:40 pm

    I’m so sorry, MJ… We went through something similar with my grandfather, and reading this post brought back many memories and tears. I hope you will find some peace in all of it. Thank you for sharing something so vulnerable and beautiful. I’m sending my love and prayers your way.

  10. Macaroni Mama — February 22, 2014 @ 9:43 pm

    I love how you captured this moment. One day soon, you will bake or cook and awe your food bloggers about your wonderful recipes. Love you.

  11. Jayne — February 23, 2014 @ 2:10 am

    So sorry to hear this MJ. x

  12. Steph — February 23, 2014 @ 8:51 am

    Oh, MJ, I’m so sorry to hear this. Regret is so difficult to deal with. I still harbor a great deal of it from the loss of my mom almost 17 years ago. I never got to be an adult with her, really. She died when I was still a selfish brat.
    Anyway, I am sorry for what you are enduring right now. Hugs.

  13. MJ, I don’t really know what to say but I know your dad knows he is loved and cared for and I know if he could talk to you now he would tell you want a wonderful daughter you are. He’s a lucky man. Try not to focus on what you regret, please. Sending hugs and strength, always XO

  14. Kathleen S — February 23, 2014 @ 9:49 am

    I’m so sorry you and your family have to face this. Watching helplessly is hard and horrible.

    I’ll share something that helped me last year.

    Last words are not that important, all the words he’s said before are what matter. His life with you, love for you and your family. That’s the sum of a life.

    I understand the regret from having imperfect memories. I started a Memories Journal and I put everything I can remember into it, from stories to the quiet ways we interacted.

    I hope by sharing I can make your days a little lighter…

  15. Wendy Read — February 23, 2014 @ 9:57 am

    MJ, my heart goes out to you as I have walked the road that you are on. Coming to terms with your regrets is a process as you well know, but it is very raw right now and will be until it just isn’t anymore. I wish you grace and tranquility to get through the next few weeks and to be a support for your Mom as well. Hold her hand the best that you know how and hold each other up.

  16. Lizthechef — February 23, 2014 @ 11:08 am

    Such a hard time for you and your family. My thoughts are with you all.

  17. Lynda - TasteFood — February 23, 2014 @ 11:14 am

    My thoughts and prayers are with you, MJ. I lost my father just before Christmas. Try not to let regrets consume you at this time – you have done your utmost and he knows it.

  18. Katy — February 23, 2014 @ 11:23 am

    My heart aches with yours. May you find peace and joy in the good memories!

  19. Sharon — February 23, 2014 @ 11:56 am

    Your post brought me to tears. You gave been a wonderful daughter to your father. We can all look back and think we should have cancelled this or changed a moment (with regrets) but you were there with your father when he knew you were and he would want you to have no regrets.

  20. Smith Bites — February 23, 2014 @ 1:02 pm

    It seems from the comments above as well as my own will tell you there are many of us with regrets similar to yours; and you also know that in the depths of your gut that yes, even had you been there, nothing would have changed. I also think regret is part of grieving: the ‘what ifs, what might have beens, the future, the past’ – all of it. but you are not alone and i know that leaving my comment won’t change it or make this process any less painful. but i hope it helps, even if it’s for a blip of a second, that you feel the love that is surrounding you now. (((hugs)))

  21. jacquie — February 23, 2014 @ 4:02 pm

    I’m so sorry. my thoughts are with you and your family. and though it doesn’t help hugs to all

  22. Nancie McDermott — February 23, 2014 @ 6:43 pm

    I am thinking of you up here in North Carolina, dealing with these things that cannot be fixed. I am so sorry. It means so much to me to read your words and see your photographs, when they are delightful and delicious, and also when they are poignant and profound and sad.

  23. Gail — February 23, 2014 @ 7:49 pm

    Oh, MJ, my heart goes out to you.
    I felt the same way when my dad was dying. It was as though a big bag of marbles spilled on the floor, and I was scrambling to gather them up as quickly as possible. But, the more I rushed to get them, the faster they rolled away from me.

    Do not beat yourself up. Don’t be hard on yourself.

  24. Alice Martin — February 23, 2014 @ 8:22 pm

    Merry Jennifer, I have known you since you were a little girl and I want you to know that your dad has always been so proud of you. I remember how happy he was on your wedding day. You filled his life with joy! I am thinking of you and your mom and brother. I love you.

  25. DrAttai — February 23, 2014 @ 10:43 pm

    So very sorry. Please know that you and your family are in my thoughts.

  26. Amy @ The Nifty Foodie — February 23, 2014 @ 11:27 pm

    I’m so sorry. You, your father and your family are in my thoughts and prayers right now.

  27. Leigh — February 24, 2014 @ 6:57 am

    MJ, I am so sorry for what you are going through. This was beautifully written. Thank you for sharing this piece of yourself. We’re here to do whatever we can. xoxo

  28. Di — February 24, 2014 @ 11:44 am

    Taking of leave of this world is often hard and agonizing work; bearing witness to it when it’s your loved one is heart-breaking. With sorrow for you and your family, I will pray.

  29. Bridget — February 24, 2014 @ 3:17 pm

    I’m so sorry. I’ll be thinking of you and your family, and wishing you all the best.

  30. Paula — February 24, 2014 @ 3:26 pm

    My heart goes put to you and your family, not to mention my prayers. I know that you know that your father loves you, then, now and always…without regret. Sending you heartfelt hugs.

  31. Kathy — February 24, 2014 @ 9:44 pm

    I ache for you. May you all find peace in the days ahead.

  32. Christine (Cook the Story) — February 26, 2014 @ 4:23 pm

    Oh, my friend. I am so sorry for your Dad’s illness and that you feel in any way to blame. You can’t live in the past and think what if because all the what ifs in the world can’t change it. But you can savor time together now. And I can tell that that is what you’re doing (you’re always so wise. You don’t need me to tell you anything like that!). You and your family are in my thoughts.

  33. vagabonde — February 28, 2014 @ 11:36 am

    I came to your blog from Sam’s My Carolina Kitchen and expected a merry recipe. I read your post and it really affected me. I am deeply sorry for your father, for you and your family. I also read your post A nursing Home Visit – so very sad. My husband has been diagnosed with Onset Alzheimer and reading your post – I realized this will come to pass for me too – not easy.

  34. Mary — March 1, 2014 @ 5:39 pm

    I’m so sorry to read that your dad passed. I have been reading your great stories about him and I think he was a loved man. My dad passed five years ago this year and I still cry everyday. I’m sure you will also but that’s alright. Thank you for sharing all these stories.

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