Dear Dad..

Dear Dad,

I'm twenty-three now. On my birthday Mom and I spent the day drinking coffee and shopping around the city. When Spencer came home, we had dinner at Olive Garden and went out to the Coldstone Creamery for ice cream. I miss your birthday hugs. I miss your mustache tickling my face as I squirm away from your fatherly affections. Forgive me if I don't write you enough, I just never hear back, which can be disheartening. Are you still there? Are you still watching?

Spencer graduated from college this year, he's an engineer just like you. Did you know he works at Hasbro now? He fits in so well there. I'm sure he'd love to tell you himself about all that he does, so I won't say too much. Honestly, he doesn't tell me anything anyway, it's all top secret. A couple years ago I graduated from Cosmetology school, I haven't finished my art major at URI. I'm still trying to figure everything out. Forgive me if I don't go into details, I just never hear what you're up to, which can be separating. Are you still there? Are you still listening?

This year I became a blonde. I adventured, I laughed. Spencer and I moved into a new apartment and we adopted a puppy. The shelter had her name as Mini, but we much prefer Beatrice. "B" for short". I think she likes that name better, too. We went to Holland, without you. Amy had a baby, tiny Mika. He's super sweet. I had my first mega-stroopwafel since that time you bought me one in Delft. It was delicious, just as I remembered. We went kart-racing, I know you would have liked that! Oh, and I met the voice actors of Spongebob and Patrick! Yes, I still watch that show. I also met Charles Martinet, the voice of Mario and Luigi. Forgive me if I have forgotten anything, you've just been gone so long, so much has happened. Are you still there? Are you still interested?

It has been four years. Four years since I've heard your laugh. Well, technically more than four since you stopped laughing months before you left this world. But that's what I miss the most. Yes of course I miss our time together, but your laugh was something so special. It was lively, contagious. I've yet to meet another person that laughs as beautifully as you did. Forgive me if I don't tell enough jokes, you just never laugh at them, which can be discouraging. Are you still there? Are you still laughing?

For a while after you left I felt terrified. Cancer scared me. I could see it only as a death sentence. It had fooled me for so long, you'd been sick my whole life! You make it through, every time. What happened that November evening in 2011 that made you leave once and for all? I know you didn't want to leave, but is there something I could have done better that would have made you want to stay longer? Why won't you tell me!? Was it something I said? Could I have helped you more? Forgive me if I sound bitter, I just don't have any answers, which can be confusing. Are you still there? Are you still answering?

Did you hear what I said? Please know I meant it. 9:59pm, November 25th 2011. I said I was sorry I had been a brat. A stupid, teenaged monster, who would run from your affection and fight you at every step. I was sorry. I am still sorry. Perhaps that is my punishment, for all the foolish things I've done. To never know if you heard my cries, to never hear from you again...
Much Love,
- "Stephie"