How I Miss My Dad Now

Using the past tense to talk about my Dad comes naturally now.

He loved listening to music.

He was an engineer.

And saying “my Dad died when I was 11” rolls off of my tongue in a way that it never has before. It’s been nine years. Time has passed. Things have gotten easier. His death is no longer where my thoughts default when nothing else is distracting me. I don’t think about him every time someone mentions his or her father in conversation. And, I don’t think about him every time someone asks about my own family.

I do think about him though. Every single day. It’s still hard.

I watch a girl dancing on her Dad’s feet and am transported back to days when I used to do the same. My friends don’t understand why I’m suddenly grinning from ear to ear but unable to say a word. It’s because I can hear my four-year-old self saying, “Daaaadd-ddyyyy” through uncontrollable giggles while I struggle to keep balance. It’s because I’m also thinking about how I want my future husband, whomever he might be, to do this with our children. Of course, I’m then reminded that the person I marry will never have had the opportunity to know my Dad.

I think of my Dad when I hear Consuelo Velázquez’s “Bésame Mucho,” Louis Prima’s “Jump Jive An’ Wail,” Dave Matthews Band’s “Ants Marching,” Simon and Garfunkel’s “Cecilia,” or any other seemingly random song. I think of him each time I burn a CD. When the tollbooth takes an extra second to turn green. Every time I pass a Waffle House. And when I turn past a crossword puzzle and see the empty white boxes that he always filled.

Most of the time, the thoughts are fleeting, coming and going throughout the day. Usually, it doesn’t upset me because I’ve grown so used to having the thoughts that bring a smile as well as having those that bring a bit of pain. It has become a part of my daily routine. Still, there are times when I’m hit more intensely.

My Dad’s birthday is on October 17th.  That day, my Facebook profile picture changes to one of us together. I do it for myself because there’s something in me that needs to be able to wave my hands as if to say “Hey world, I still miss him! Thousands of days have passed, but I still grieve and it still hurts.” It’s ironic in a way. After he first died, I hated feeling like I was “the girl whose Dad died.” But now? I just want people to remember him, even if it’s for just one day of the year.

The worst are the times when I’m sharing a memory and realize the person with whom I’m speaking just isn’t getting it. They never knew my Dad, so they’re having a hard time picturing this almost-mythical figure I’m gushing about. For many, he’s simply a collection of fragmented stories and memories of a little girl.  How can I even come close to adequately explaining him? There are days when it absolutely crushes me to remember the truth: I can’t.

A person is so much more than their occupation, their likes and dislikes, or their talents. It’s about the moments you share with them. How they could draw people in. How their presence could fill a room. The unconditional love. The pride. The laughs. The embraces. It’s all of the intangible little things you can’t put your finger on. It’s the life that made that person special. The majority of the people now in my life never knew him. I wish they could have. Maybe then, it would be easier for them to grasp what I’m missing.

It’s been nine years since his death, and most days, I’m happy. I accepted my new normal years ago and learned to love my life and live it for what it is. Yet there are still days when I break down crying, and there are times when I want to scream about how unfair it all is. But these days are normal for me. Being used to something doesn’t mean it’s always easy. And those who love me understand these days will forever be a part of who I am.

Special thanks to guest author and Hello Grief community member Samantha Halle for sharing this story with us.

20 Comments:

  1. dave said on November 16, 2012 at 6:18 am ... #

    ThANK YOU SAMANTHA…
    My dad passed in Feb 2012. He was 81 and I was 50 so it wasn’t like I didn’t have him around but D*mn it hurts so much. I became a grand father recently and I didn’t get to share that with him. His birthday was just last week, plus he was a war vet and Veterans day just came…
    GOD bless all of you for sharing.

  2. dave said on November 16, 2012 at 6:22 am ... #

    Hey Logan,
    You aren’t a screw up…

  3. Stephen said on November 19, 2012 at 3:49 pm ... #

    What a wonderful Dad you write of. I too know memories that strong. It has almost been ten years and Thanksgiving being just three days away makes me long for his voice and his tremendous ability to make everything more special. I have four children and two step children. All but the 13 year old grown. At breakfast today I told my 13 year old about his conversations as a 3 year old with my Dad. Before leaving for work today I climbed up on the bed and hugged my sleeping wife with tears rolling down my eyes as I felt waves of grief in missing his voice and his presence in my life. Then I think of the unusual love of history that my 13 year old has. I sense the connection my youngest child has with his grandfather and I am humbled. Today is hard. I was so lucky to have him in my life.

  4. Julie said on November 23, 2012 at 2:20 am ... #

    Hi there,
    I stumbled upon this by searching the simple phrase of “I miss my dad”. It’s Thanksgiving Day and with every single item I cooked and prepared I could hear him cheering me on, encouraging me, reminding me of just how special of a bond the two of us had.
    He died almost two years ago and I still can’t believe how much I miss him. I was 31 when he died and I’m almost 33 now.
    He and I had a psychic connection that others noticed, and no one else could match. I know he’s hear reading this over my shoulder and I want to type this part so he knows it’s true. 🙂 I love you and miss you dad.
    Thank you for sharing, Samantha. May blessings be upon you.
    Julie

  5. Kathy said on December 17, 2012 at 5:59 pm ... #

    Thank you Samantha for writing about what all of us are feeling. My dad had been sick for many years, but no one expected him to die without any warning. Every day seems like twenty days put together because of all of the ups and downs. “I miss my dad. I wish I had done things differently. He would not want me to think that way.” That is way that my life has been for the last seven weeks. My dad was my last older relative to die, and I still miss each one of them every day.

  6. Andrea said on December 31, 2012 at 4:02 pm ... #

    My dad left us in 2004. I miss his humor,
    charity, and sense of justice. But what I miss
    most is how he always defended me no
    matter, even if I knew deep down I was wrong.

  7. still hurts said on January 10, 2013 at 4:28 am ... #

    January 11th is the ONE year anniversary of my dad passing away. GAWD D*mmit it hurts so much. He was my hero. I miss you dad. RIP. We all miss you. Mom is ok, us kids are doing well. I am a grandfather now. You would love my granddaughter,she is beautiful.
    GOD BLESS YOU DADDY….

  8. torontoguy said on February 1, 2013 at 9:43 pm ... #

    Your father sounds like he was a wonderful loving man. My father died 41 years ago when I was 11 and I still have wonderful and warm memories of him and wish he had been in my life longer. The love you had for each other will always be there with you. Knowing he loved you so much is as important as the length of time he had with you. From reading the comments its obvious that the love we have for our parents even in mourning is a lifelong source of stength.

  9. blessed daughter said on March 2, 2013 at 2:25 pm ... #

    Aug. 5, 2010 was the day my Dad left this world. How blessed I was to have him as my father. I still miss him so much. Most days are OK now, but sometimes I look in the mirror and think that I look so sad. Of course, life goes on but it will never be the same. Love you, Dad

  10. still hurts said on March 15, 2013 at 4:57 am ... #

    I understand this is a blog for dad’s I just had to say that on March 13th 2013 my mother left me to be with dad… She missedher man so much
    I am in such pain.. it hurts so much.. I just want to be with them…
    oh mom I miss you tell dad I said hello..

  11. nickpino said on March 26, 2013 at 1:17 am ... #

    Samantha, I lost my dad almost 4 1/2 years ago after a bout with cancer. I TOTALLY relate to what you are saying. I want people to remember him and especially feel the unfairness that the girl I marry may never have met him during his life. The few videos I have found of him are treasured keepsakes and I could kick myself for not having video recorded more of him. I have tried to find phone messages from him and some of his last were deleted before I could save them. That hurts. I keep his handwriting and some of the dearest birthday cards like gold. Like you said, the new normal allows me to go through the day and not always weep – like I said, I can totally relate – but on the 4th anniversary of his passing I completely fell apart in a way I hadn’t in a long time. I have asked the Lord time and again if He would kiss my Daddy for me and I smile as I consider getting to heaven and seeing my Daddy drenched… and when I asked him why he would tell me, “well, you asked God to kiss me several times” 🙂 Thank you Samantha for sharing and for all of you who have lost your dads, young or old – it is so comforting to talk to a community of people who understand…

  12. ashley link said on June 6, 2013 at 12:24 am ... #

    hey sam!!!
    not sure if you remember me, i went to dance class at robert’s! i still think about you and your family often and i love how you change your FB picture to a photo of you and your dad!!! you are such a brave lady and your dad would be so proud of you!!! i remember him! he was always nice to my family! andddd his birthday is one day before my dad’s. i’m thinking of you and praying for you sweet girl!!! if you ever need anything, i’ve got your back!!! <3 ashley

  13. christina said on July 12, 2013 at 1:07 pm ... #

    Thank you so much for sharing your story.I am only ten and my parents are divoced my dad lives in the SC (south carlina).i only get to see him 7 weeks a year and i always miss him whaen i come home back to my mom.He never passed but since hes 30 i am very scared that when im with my mom something might happen to him.My mom lives in ohio so i cant just go seeing him every day.i just got home yesterday and have been crying since i got here and im even crying as i look at his picture now. But i get to seen him in december.but to me that is to long so i try to talk to him every day.

  14. Ncumisa T said on August 16, 2013 at 6:56 am ... #

    Thank you for sharing

    I recently lost my father on 01 August 2013. It is so hard everyday i think about him and hurts, sometimes i wouold cry , am not sure when i would acceopt that he is no more, i still have his contact numbers in my phone,sometimes i would attempt to call wanted to hear voice so bad i hurts. i pray to God everyday to give strenght to accept that the most important part is no longer with and give me ernegy to carry on, sometimes i would pray to God just to dream about him, may be crazee i adont know.i still love him so so much

  15. Sherry Gonzalez said on October 16, 2013 at 9:49 pm ... #

    Thank you so much for sharing today (October 16th) is my dads birthday. It’s the 2nd birthday since his passing. I googled today I miss my dad and this popped up it is exactly what I needed. Some one who gets it.

  16. Jeannie said on December 15, 2013 at 2:02 am ... #

    My Dads funeral was just today. I feel so broken. Like its a bad dream. I am 43 yrs old. Why do I feel l ike a lost child? I miss him so much.

  17. debbie turnbull said on April 5, 2014 at 8:59 am ... #

    I lost my dad 2 and halph years. i miss him more than anything.i read all these lettlers and they sound so beautiful to think about there dads. mine died of cancer and watching him die was the hardest thing ever. i will miss him everyday of my life . i want to say happybirthday dad allen turnbull. U were the greatest farther.those who have a father left feel lucky u have them.we will meet again someday in heaven dad. we all liove you forever.

  18. Katie Keihle said on September 5, 2014 at 7:06 pm ... #

    My dad died when I was 11 too, Im 14 now, so its been about 3 and a half years, does it really get better? i know for me its gotten a little better, but today is his birthday, and he loved holidays, so now, holidays are like a stab in the back, because it just reminds me of him. do things like that get easier? or, doing something that it would be just you and him, like for me, it was watching movies like star wars and things, because he was blind and had a lot of health problems, but, still there were things just him and I did, anyways, I think this is great, but still, its hard, I wonder what life would be like if he hadn’t have died, we just moved this last year, and its like, would we still have moved? he doesnt get to see me get my lisence or boyfriend, which, the boyfriend part might not be so bad 😛 he would interegate him lol, anyways, yeah, thanks for this though 😀

  19. David said on October 18, 2014 at 12:28 pm ... #

    Samantha

    That was so touching

    This year will be 13 years since my father’s death at the same age as you

    All my friends do not get it or never will get what it feels like to lose someone you love so young. Even though people say how hard it has been for myself – losing parents young teaches you to value life so much more.

    If you father was alive today he would be very proud of you for writing something so eloquently

  20. Barb Boyer said on April 21, 2015 at 11:15 am ... #

    Wonderfully written. My story is not quite the same it is of losing 2 husbands to death. But the emotions and thoughts are still the same as yours. Your never forget a loved one that was taken too soon, the pain is still there, but does not hurt quite as much. But so are the memories that bring a smile to ones face and a bit of joy in one heart. They are still loved and never forgotten.

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