Last Tuesday night, I posted about mortality and how I'm grappling with the fear of still potentially losing Will. I want nothing more than to enjoy this sweet boy without fear. To live in each moment and not focus on what the future could bring. I have tried many things to push this fear out of my head and it's tough. I often think of it as an irrational fear, but after much thought I think I have figured out why I focus too much on the unknowns...the fear of losing someone I love so much.
If you've been reading the blog for awhile, you know I lost my dad at a young age. I was just 14 when he passed away. You can see how he inspired me, how he continues influencing my life and read all about some of the things he taught me that I hope to pass along to Emme and Will by clicking on those links.
Since I wrote the mortality post last Tuesday, I had been thinking about the subject quite a bit. I wondered why I was struggling so much with the fear. I started thinking about how it had felt when my Dad passed away. Then, I remembered that much like I had written letters to Will while I was still pregnant with him, I had also written a letter about my Dad before he passed away. It was the summer of 1994 when I took a pen to a piece of scrap computer paper and wrote a letter I intended to read on the day my dad would die. I wrote it with tear filled eyes, full of fear and anxiety about what life would be like when he passed away. I prayed I would not realize those fears for many years, but unfortunately he would pass away less than a year after I wrote my letter.
My fears about my dad passing away weren't typical carefree teenager fears, and I was upset that I was so consumed with worry about my dad's death. I was angry that I had to be different. Angry that I may lose my Dad before others even considered it a possibility. In some ways, it was not all that different from some of my fears and angst over potentially losing Will.
After I wrote the letter to my Dad, I safely tucked it away in a secret place I thought no one would discover. I carefully placed it inside of a picture frame behind a favorite photo of my Dad and me. When my Dad passed away less than a year later, I had forgotten about my letter and in all the years since it was pushed further and further out of my mind.
Last weekend, Carlton and I took the kids and headed to my mom's for a long weekend. I went with the goal in mind of finding that picture frame and secret letter that had crept back into my mind over the past week as I struggled so much about mortality.
Saturday night after everyone had gone to bed, I looked for my secret letter. I didn't even remember which picture frame it may be in but I started searching and looking through a stack of old pictures still in their early 80s gold frames. I wasn't even sure what picture I had placed the letter in, so I was opening the back of each frame carefully and praying a letter would fall out.
After several minutes of searching, I opened the back of a frame that held a picture of me. I appeared to be just a couple years old and I was amazed when I saw the familiar handwriting of my Dad on the back of the picture.
My heart seemed to stop beating. I slowly read each word and took them in to my soul. For a moment, my Dad was back. There was nothing profound about his note but I still felt close to him. He thought I was "the sweetest little girl" and he was my "proud dad". Those simple words that he chose to take the time to write almost thirty years ago meant the world to me. My hunt for my own secret letter had instead first led me to a hidden treasure from my Dad. I got a little goosebumpy. He beat me to the punch. :)
After finding his note, there was no way I could stop searching for my own secret letter. I pulled a few more frames out and there at the bottom of the stack was the picture. I knew when I saw it that it was the one. This was the frame I had been searching for. It held one of my very favorite pictures of my Dad and me.
I took a deep breath, carefully pushed the metal clips off the back of the frame, and anxiously pulled away the cardboard backing. Could this really be it? Sure enough, a piece of yellowed computer paper fell out. The creases I made over seventeen years ago were still there and perfect. My secret letter was still just that... a secret. In this moment, I felt alive in the past. I felt amazingly close to my Dad. I was sitting on the floor in my old bedroom reliving the hopes and fears of an overly emotional teenager. I pulled the letter out and slowly began to read the words.
This is awful, but it's almost 11:30 PM and Will is stirring... my computer battery is at 4%. Carlton is snoring beside me. I have to log off but I'll finish my post soon. Hopefully tomorrow!