Letter for Papa

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Letter for Papa

Dear Papa,

Today was one of the hardest days of my life.

Today, I had to let you go.

I remember the day you were first diagnosed with a terminal cancer eight years ago. I remember that night, I begged God to let you live, and against all odds, you did.

Then, you beat the odds again. And again. And again.

You were always a fighter, weren’t you, Papa? You never let anyone tell you what you could or couldn’t do. You made your own rules, your own way, and your own life. You knew you could accomplish anything you set your mind to, a trait I’m proud to have inherited from you.

You have been the biggest inspiration, and held the largest influence in my life. For you, I always had the greatest amount of respect, admiration, and love. Every choice I have made in my life, I have made with you in mind.

I knew I wouldn’t be able to let you go until I could make you proud, and this summer, as you braved another battle with brain cancer, I was able to do just that. Over your favorite pot roast dinner special at Jim’s, I shared with you my achievement of success.

I didn’t know then it would be my last happy day with you.

Less than a week later, I received the devastating news that your cancer was stronger than anticipated. You weren’t expected to live through the year, but we’d been here before. We’d been on this roller coaster so many times in the past eight years, and I had faith you would beat the odds yet again.

The night I stayed with you in the hospital, I was forced to accept the possibility you wouldn’t beat the odds this time. You had been struggling for so long. You were exhausted. You were ready to let go. But how could you when me (and the rest of your loving family) wouldn’t let you?

You fought so hard, and suffered so much in the past two months. And I know you did so for us. 

These past few days, I remembered the years you made it your mission to keep me out of the hospital beds and the sickness I was stuck in. I remembered how you would drape your coat over me in freezing weather to keep me warm when I lost the strength to stand. I remembered how you never gave up on me, and fought so hard to get answers for me so I could get better.

You were there for every broken dream. You were my light in all my darkest moments. You were my hero, saving my life again and again and again.

And I wanted so badly to save yours. I didn’t want to give up on you. I wanted so badly to be your hero for once. 

That’s why it was so hard to say the words I finally forced myself to say. As I held your hand, and looked into your tired eyes I told you the words you needed to hear the most: it’s okay to let go. You don’t have to suffer anymore.

I wish I had been able to say them before you lost the energy and ability to speak. I wish I had given you the chance to say everything I know you wanted to tell me in that moment. I could see the strain in your eyes and hear the pain in your breath as you struggled to speak the words I would never get to hear. 

But I kissed your head, and said, “It’s okay. I love you, Papa, and I know you love me too.”

It felt like a weight had been lifted off of me the moment I surrendered the fight to hold on, and I would repeat those words so many times in your last twenty-four hours. Your whole family would, actually. Your last day, you were finally given the acceptance you needed to find eternal peace. Though it was hard for all of us, we loved you enough to let you go.

In your final moments, I like to think you felt our love fill up the room. I imagine you rode that feeling straight into each of our hearts where I know you’ll stay until we see you again on the Other Side. 

I love you so much, Papa. It broke my heart to let you go, but it won’t be broken for long. I can already feel your spirit filling up the space you left behind. I can already feel your strength, your wisdom, your courage, and your endless love overflowing in my life, mending all my broken pieces. 

Your body may be dead, but your fighting spirit is very much alive.

And as long as you’re alive in me, I won’t ever quit. No matter how hard the struggle, I’ll fight with you, for you, through you.

Just like you did for me.

You mean everything to me. You always have and you always will. And though I miss you dearly, I’m so happy you have finally found your peace.

With love,


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