Missing My Dad, For My Sister

For the past eleven years, my dad has been physically gone from this earth.  In these years, so many things have happened that my dad would have given anything to be here for. I have had piano recitals, chorus concerts, and musicals – I know he would have been my biggest fan.  I’ve had proms, homecomings and galas – I know he would have been excited to meet (and possibly harass) my dates, I know he would have told me I looked beautiful.  I’ve had graduations from high school and college – I know he would have been overwhelmed with pride.  I’ve gotten my first “real” job, and recently bought my first home – I know he would have been overjoyed to see me succeed.

On all of these “big” days in my life, I’ve been aware that someone was missing.  I’ve thought about and wished he could have been there, but I never really had time process that there was always a void.  I was caught in a whirlwind – practicing songs, doing my hair, and looking for the tassel I was supposed to have on my graduation cap, and trying to find everything I needed to sign my closing papers.  I was focused on what I had to get done, not to mention the rest of my family and friends who surrounded me.  This certainly didn’t replace the presence of my dad, but oddly enough these things allowed me to completely escape the truth that there was an absence in these moments.

To be honest, I’ve always found myself missing my dad more in the little things.  I’d come home from college, and imagine what it would be like to sit at the kitchen counter with my dad late at night, drinking tea in our pajamas and having an adult conversation.  I’d think about how much he loved college football, and how he would have become a huge Hokies fan upon my decision to go to Virginia Tech, and come to as many games with me as he could.  The every day events are where I have always found myself missing him, until I became an observer of the big events for other members of my family.

My youngest sister was only 5 when my dad passed away.  I know it is harder for her to remember him, and even though I feel that I’ve missed out on so much by not having him around, I imagine she feels that way even more.  My sister is gorgeous, talented, and exceptionally mature for her age.  She is 16 now, and is hitting a point in her life where lots of her big events are occurring.  I, now the outsider, have watched her on these days and wondered if she, like I, is far too busy to have a moment to stop and think about what’s missing.

I first experienced this a couple months ago.  My sister is an incredibly talented designer, and designed and sewed an entire fashion line for her school’s fashion show.  She hadn’t shown me any of her pieces, as she wanted it to be a surprise when we came to see the show.  When I saw her models walk onto the stage, my jaw dropped – I could hardly believe the masterpieces that she had created.  I cheered so loud when she came out to receive recognition for her work, and cheered even harder when she accepted the award for Best Fashion Line, agreed on unanimously by the judges.  I was overwhelmed with pride in a way I had never experienced.

That night we went out to celebrate, and I couldn’t contain my excitement.  I actually think I started to drive my sister crazy with how many times I said how happy I was for her.  At one point I stopped to reflect on the evening, and all the work she had put into this event in the months leading up to it.  And I realized that this pride I was feeling, this insatiable desire to brag about her and tell her how talented she was, was probably nowhere near what my dad would be feeling on this night.  Like I said, he was our biggest fan.

I started thinking about how much it might mean to her to hear all these things from him.  I know that my dad would have showed up for the show with flowers for her, he would have cheered even louder than me, and he would have gone into work the next day with pictures of her fashion line to show to his coworkers and would tell them how amazing his daughter is.

I know that this night was the first of many times I will experience this, as my sister has a slew of big events ahead off her yet.  I recently sat in her room while she was getting ready for her first prom.  As she curled her hair and did her makeup, I talked with her about the events for the evening, from dinner to the after party.  We walked downstairs together, where friends and family were gathered to see her off.  Our dad’s best friend teared up, as he often does at events like this, and told her how beautiful she looked.  Again, I thought about how much it would mean for those words to come from her father.

After my dad died, I started to realize that there would be big and little events that he would miss in my life.  I could count a thousand moments when I’ve felt his absence so strongly that I couldn’t speak or think about anything else.  But recently, when I experienced my sister’s shining moments, I realized that I felt the absence of his presence even more.

Sometimes it is even more painful to feel the ache of loss on behalf of another person you love. I would give anything for my sister to have her dad there for these events in her life, but I know that we share the bond of knowing that taking even a moment to remember him keeps him close to us, and that his spirit is with us on these days.

Photo Credit.


  1. Amanda said on August 11, 2010 at 12:42 pm ... #

    I, tragically, suddenly, and most unexpectedly lost my Father 2 and a half months ago…I’m 24 and have a 16 year old brother. I’m trying my best to stay strong, and keep my Father’s spirit alive, especially for him. My Father is and was my absolute idol, and favorite person. My journey through grief is an uphill battle everyday, in many different ways. I’m happy my Mother found this website for me. I’m fortunate to not feel so alone.

  2. Kelly said on August 11, 2010 at 7:56 pm ... #

    I lost my day last year and i try to stay strong around my sisters and brothers because i have 5 other siblings.

  3. Jamie said on August 13, 2010 at 12:33 pm ... #

    My mother-in-law died a few months before her first daughter married. The wedding was tough, and as we did rehearsal, it was even tougher. When we all heard Dad say, “I do” to the question, “who gives this woman in matrimony..” I just about sobbed for the family.

    But the next day, Dad brilliantly replied, “her mother and I,” because even though Penny was no longer with us, she had blessed their marriage. Not a dry eye in the house, but a wonderful happiness reigned over the rest of the day.

  4. Nicole said on August 19, 2010 at 8:32 am ... #

    I lost my Dad last June suddenly. He was my best friend. I am an only child and I was a Dad’s girl still at the age of 26. Now a year later, I have my own son which my Dad would be crazy about. I am sad every Dad thinking about every think my Dad is missing out on. I also am sad for my son because he will never meet his grandfather.

  5. jarrod said on August 25, 2010 at 11:11 pm ... #

    I know what your going through. But mine is with my mom. I’m going into the 8th grade. And I cried myself a river when she wasn’t there to tell me have a good day. She died July 31st 2010. It hasn’t even been a month. She was a very sweet person. My friends said she was the nicest mom. She always offered snacks, drinks and other stuff to them… It’s sad. And when I get older. Like at the eigth grade awards she won’t be there to tell me good job. It’ll be hard when I graduate high school and college. I wish she has 20 more years to live. She was 49 and this February would be their 20th. That’s a very big mile stone. 20 years!

  6. leah said on August 31, 2010 at 4:00 am ... #

    i lost my mom almost 2 years ago now, suddenly and unexpecedtly. and like the author am the older sibling. my younger sister was in high school at the time. and her confirmation was the first big milestone event to occur after our mom died. i felt so sad that our mom wasn’t their to see my beautiful sister reaffirm her faith. she wasn’t their to hear her sing a song she wrote on what her religion meant to her. but mom was there at mine. even with all the mother daughter teenage issues she was still there at my prom and graduation. our mom wasn’t there, but other strong women were, one of mom’s best friends, my sisters big buddy from CZC, and i was there. so very proud of my little sister as her name was read and she received her high school diploma. and just a few weeks ago she started college, and just returned from CZC again with more tools and friends to help and understand her. and me, i’ll always be here for my sister.
    i understand how the author feels, that because she was older she had more time with that parent through more milestones than younger siblings. it is hard, i feel sad for my sister, that our mom isn’t here for her milestones. and for me too, it is the little things that i miss most about my mom…her hug, her writing (so much more legible than my dads), her voice…

  7. joyce said on September 2, 2010 at 1:12 am ... #

    I lost my daughter 2 years ago..and the lost has been devastating..but I can only imagine how much more for my grandaughter..kate whom was 7 when her mom died.She has expressed to me many times how it would be nice to have “mom” to celebrate good grades,to go on field trips to see her play trumpet..she is still a little girl having to cope with not having either a mom or dad to be there for her.

  8. toni pattieshaw said on September 22, 2010 at 12:11 pm ... #

    i lost my dad about 21 days ago. he died from cancer. and im 14 almost 15. im a freshman. its hard. i have a big family and i almost never show any emotion so they know we can all be strong together. but sometimes i feel his death is my fault. a year before he died we got in a tramtic car reck while he was driving ME to soccer practice. that was the same day they found the cancer. and sometimes i just wounder, what if i didnt have soccer. he was my coach, teacher, best friend and father. and all those things are gone now. i would give anything to be with him now. not many people understand that you think that 14 years would be enough. but i know now. it wasnt, not even close. he will miss homecoming. prom. soccer. everything. i mean i guess hes watching from the best seat but i want to hear his voice cheering me on. im going to miss that. im adopted with all my siblings and we all have open adoptions so my litte brother who is 7 he still sleeps where my dad did and i want to tell hey he loved you so much along with my little sister who is 8. they need to know that my dad would have never left us without knowing that we were going to be okay. so i guess im trusting we will all be okay someday.

  9. karen perry said on September 26, 2010 at 6:22 pm ... #

    Hi Elizabeth,
    I lost my husband almost 2 years ago, we have a daughter Katie 14 (in high school and a son 12 in middle school). I was just talking to a friend last week about Katie on the very same letter you just wrote. Katie, although older seems to be handling her fathers death better then my son. As I have cried for my son every day (they were so close) I often wonder how katie is going to handle the big days in her life when her father isn’t here to tell her how proud he is of her and how beautiful she is. For me the most painful part of my husband’s death (other then missing him so much) is knowing that my children will never have their dad here to cheer them on, it absolutely kills me. Thank you for sharing your letter.

    karen perry

  10. toni pattieshaw said on October 13, 2010 at 11:45 am ... #

    karen perry: tell your daughter she is not alone. everyone is always telling me he will never see you go to prom or graduate. or anything like that. i know he will. durring soccer i point to the sky and i know hes watching. tell your daughter katie her father is watching her from the best seat in the house. and he will always watch over your family. thanks.

  11. Marty Tousley said on February 13, 2012 at 11:46 am ... #

    Elizabeth, my dear, I’m so sorry that you don’t have your dad to be there in person for you and your sister ~ but how fortunate for both of you that you are there for her in his stead. Your father has blessed your sister with a very sensitive, supportive and loving sibling. Thank you for sharing your beautiful thoughts with all of us ♥

  12. Anonymous said on May 10, 2012 at 1:24 pm ... #

    Missing parent

  13. Pam Copeland said on September 7, 2012 at 3:09 pm ... #

    Elizabeth, thank you! Your story touched my heart so much. I was eight years old when my Dad died; my sister was thirteen. Thank you for putting into words for both of us sentiments so close to our own.


  14. Stephanie said on March 6, 2013 at 2:28 pm ... #

    Oh Elizabeth, what a touching article. I lost my dad to brain cancer two years ago, and one thing that makes me so sad I can hardly stand it is the thought that he won’t be around to get to see his grandchildren grow up, especially my younger sister’s baby who is due to be born any day now. You’ve inspired me to blog about this; thank you for sharing your story. http://justmycurrentperspective.blogspot.com/

  15. Anonymous said on April 8, 2015 at 1:28 am ... #

    Hi Elizabeth,

    Your story has encouraged me to tell my story. Thank you.

    I lost my dad 10 months ago at the age of 24 and not a day goes by that I do not think about him and the impact that he had and continues to have on my life.

    My dad was in a boating accident, and did not return after a trip down our river to see his friend. My dad went missing on fathers day and for days after his loss the clouds thundered and rained and I couldn’t help but feel as though the rain on the river was him – crying for us – and the tragedy that occurred the night of the accident.

    The hardest part of losing my dad was the circumstances of his accident. He left us doing something he loved, and at a place that we all cherished (our family cabin).

    Throughout the many stages of grief I have experienced, I found it most difficult to come to terms with the pain and fear he must have felt. I know that he never would have wanted to leave us and my biggest worry at times was whether or not my dad could find peace after death, for I have feared that he would feel to guilty to move on, to ashamed of the accident and how it occurred.

    Its been hard to cope with the tragedy after the accident, and I have learned to deal with flash backs and use meditative practices to work through them ( A councler taught me how to breath through my flash backs and honor the emotions experienced with out judgement) My grief roles through me and at times is stronger and harder to cope with then others. Many things trigger the pain that I feel but what I have tried to do is take the pain that I feel towards the loss of my dad and turn it in to a method of honoring his life and what he means to me. Its almost as though the sorrow is so strong the only way I know how to channel it is through my passions. I have learnt to paint and when I paint- I paint for him. My yoga practice is often dedicated to the love that my father gave me and my intentions are to live my life in my fathers honor. These types of mantras have truly saved me through out this year. It is with honor that I have learned to continue to hold him close to me, and continue to learn from him. By honoring him, I learn more about myself and what I am capable of.

    I often worry most about my mom. She has been an incredibly strong person throughout the loss. They were married for 36 years and my dad was all my mother knew. She has surprised me, I never thought I would see her grow and flourish independently so quickly. But I am scared that deep down she is mourning and afraid to show it. I am afraid that I will lose her too. I am afraid that if I ever leave her she will feel completely and utterly alone.

    Another thing that often comes up is the one year mark. It is almost as though I am anticipating the day that the accident occurred. Waiting for it. And as strange as it is to say it. I am excited. I am excited because time DID pass. Time as it does went by, and myself, my mother and brother and grandmother made it through the hardest year that we have ever experienced. I think alot about sharing a reflection to some one and speaking out about what I learned this year, how I truly feel and what it was like to lose my father. I am not quite sure why I fantasize about this so much. Perhaps its just another strange fickle form of grief. What I have realized is that yes, there are staple grief terms that you can identify with. But grief is just a word. And the way that you feel from your grief, and the way that you act out your grief are entirely unique to you. These things can not be defined and they can not always be understood. What I do know is that honesty and integrity are the most important words to remember when honoring your own well being through grief. It is so important to align your actions so that they match your values and inner knowingness of whats right for you. Especially when you are going through a period of loss and are looking for many ways to fill that void that you are experiencing.

    To help move past my grief I have faith that he is always with me. I find it comforting to pray to him and to listen to my conscious for answers or insights. I write down any dreams that I have of him and reflect on what the messages might mean. In my faith I have found hope that he is always near. And this to some might seem silly, but believing that my dad is truly in my heart, or close by, watching over me- brings me peace. If you find yourself doing this and feel silly- know that you are not alone. To take solace in an act that might be foreign or unnatural at times does not mean that you should stop. Faith in times of pain is all we have and it helps us move forward. It helps time pass.

    I gues I wanted to write this because if my words can at all help some one who is going through loss, I want to help. The worst thing people said to me throughout our loss was “I cant imagine what you are going through” and after hearing this statement copious times it began to strike a chord of resentment- Because I WANTED you to imagine- what it was like- to lose someone that important in your life. To feel compassion for loss the and empathy for the pain. Because in this world that’s all we have to give others in times of struggle. We have our support and compassion and empathy.

    If you are reading this- I can imagine what you have gone through. In fact I want to put myself in your shoes. And please, put yourself in mine. And together we can learn to walk together through tears and stories and hope.

    Anonymous – Canada

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