Alex Zaslow, Daughter

Dad,

As I sit here writing you this note, I am thinking how the heck am I going to get through life without you? You were my everything. You weren’t just a dad, you were this extraordinary man with a gift for life. You appreciated everything and everyone and I appreciated you for that. You were the best friend a girl could ask for. I felt like I didn’t need anyone else. You shined brighter than anyone else in my life. Dad, you were this candle that lit up the entire world. You have touched so many people and not just through your writing, but just by being you. You had an enormous heart and such a love for everyone. You were there for everyone and now it’s time for everyone to be there for you.

This miserable and horrible feeling inside of me can only be described by saying how lucky and unlucky I am feeling. Is it even possible to be both? You always answered all of my questions. I am the luckiest girl in the world that I got to have you in my life for 20 amazing years. I don’t regret a second that I had with you because we cherished every moment and never wasted any time. You were always the happiest man in the world with that huge handsome smile on your face. It is the smile you showed me whenever I got a good grade, when I got my internships, when I fell in love, when I was experiencing life abroad and loving every second of it. Whenever I was happy about anything, you just smiled back because you were just happy to know how happy I was. Nothing seemed right, real or special until I got a chance to share it with you and see your reaction. You made me feel like I was on top of the world every time we spoke. I am the person I am today because I had you leading and teaching me. You were always so proud of me but I don’t know if you realize how proud I was of you and still am. I think the world of you. You are my hero. I am the person I am today because I had you to guide me. I just really hope that just because you will not be here to for me to physically touch and hold that you will still continue teaching me. I have learned more from you than I have from anyone else. You are my guardian angel, dad, and I have never believed in anything spiritual until right now. I know for a fact that you will be shining down on me continuing to teach me. I still have so much to learn from you.

One of my favorite activities to do with you was grocery shopping. You let me put whatever I wanted in the cart and there were no restrictions. We would get so excited over food that we both liked. When we would get to the checkout line you would pick up an ELLE Magazine (where I interned this summer) and tell the lady behind the counter that I worked there and show her how I contributed to the magazine. You were so proud of me and you wanted the world to know how you felt about us.

Speaking of food, our love for anchovies was a gross and special bond that we shared. We would sneak off and eat them together. Anytime that just me and you were going out to eat, we would make sure it was somewhere that served pizza just so we could get anchovies and mom wouldn’t have to see it.

Your fashion sense was lets just say… unique. Your Hawaiian shirts and short running shorts were such a great look.  The best present that mom has ever gotten you was the Florida turnpike shirt. Whenever we drove anywhere in Florida you made sure to wear that just so you can bond with the people collecting the tolls. You would say “hey, I like your shirt.” You made each and every one of them smile. We would then drive away and the confused look on their faces stuck and we just laughed and laughed. Since the accident, I haven’t let go of one of your button down shirts. It smells just like you when you used to come home from work or a speech. It was the smell of comfort. It was the best smell in the entire world. It meant you were home safe and sound and you were ours. We had you home to be with and to talk to and to snuggle with. The shirt is now drenched with my tears and snot and despite the wrinkles, you would still wear it. You didn’t care what anyone thought of you.

My fondest memories are of when we were younger and you watched Jordan, Eden and me dance on the coffee table in the family room. You and mom put us in huge oversized Zazz bash shirts and we shook our tushes to the tunes of Selena and Pam Tillis. We still resent you both because 90% of our childhood pictures came from these dance parties. We looked like we had no other clothing in our wardrobe.

Another amazing memory is when we used to wake up early down the shore and rent bikes and ride on the boardwalk. We had to wake up early because you could only ride in Atlantic City before 10:00 am and we wanted to make sure we biked the full length of the boardwalk. We would then go out for lunch even though Nanny would get mad because she had a house full of food. I also loved going for walks with you on that boardwalk. I loved going right after dinnertime. We would go to mentos and I would get ice cream and you would get pretzel rods because you never really had a sweet tooth. We would walk and you would put your arm around my shoulder and we would just talk about life and we would hear the ocean waves and smell the water and see the Atlantic City lights in the distance. We had so many memories down the shore.

This next memory is one that our entire family would laugh about. You used to find it so amusing when you would go underneath the boardwalk and stick a dollar bill up through the cracks and make someone feel lucky when they walked by and thought that they found a dollar! They would then be very confused as to why they couldn’t pick it up. You used to have a plan of attack with Brett and have him call you as soon as someone was walking by. You had the best sense of humor, dad. You made everyone laugh during any situation. Everyone still talks about the speeches you made at our bat-mitzvahs and just crack up!!

Our vacation memories were not just at the shore but also in Florida. We always took vacations to see our family because it was so important to us to have a close relationship with our family. You made it happen, dad. All of my aunts, uncles and cousins are as close to me as they can get. Whenever you knew that I needed to get out of the 12 person packed house in Florida, you would always ask me to go for a walk. It was the most relaxing and fun thing that I ever did in Florida. I got one-on-one time with my dad and that is all I needed to be happy. I would even love going for runs with you even though you got annoyed because I couldn’t keep up with your fast pace. Going to hang out with you in the clubhouse was another amazing memory. We could always just sit and talk for hours. We NEVER EVER ran out of things to talk about. You were always there for me no matter what and cared about EVERY SINGLE thing that I had to say.

I loved sitting in the air chair with you in the front yard. It was the most relaxed you ever were. You would just sit there with a cup of coffee and a newspaper and you were the happiest man ever. I would just go outside and sit on the grass and talk to you while you rocked back and fourth in the air chair.

I loved going to the movies with you. You would always take me to see the most intense movies that I would never see on my own but I always ended up loving. We would talk about the movie the whole way home and then we would sit in your bed while you read the newspaper and I would talk to you. Even though your eyes were looking at the paper, I always knew you were listening to me.

Remember when you took me to the mall on my birthday and said I have 30 minutes to buy whatever I could. Me being the shopper that I am, sprinted around Somerset faster than I have ever sprinted anywhere in my entire life. You were only able to spend 30 minutes in the mall before you went crazy. Running around that mall was hilarious and stressful at the same time. I wish someone video taped it.

You always listened to me play the piano and came out of your office to tell me how good I sound even though I only remembered 2 songs that Mrs. Tong taught me. It got repetitive but you were so proud of me.

I always loved seeing you perform your magic tricks. Even though I know how to do each and every one of them, I was still always in awe of how you did it. Kids loved you. They were in amazement and thought you were magical because you are magical, dad. You are magic.

I am so grateful that I got to see you speak to thousands of people. Almost every speech you gave, you got a standing ovation. If that didn’t make you realize how special you are, then I don’t know what will. My favorite part about seeing you speak was after your speech and you signed books. People would tell you their individual stories and you would be patient and lend an ear and then personalize every book. I loved seeing how big of an impact you had on so many people’s lives.

You always left something that you thought we should read in the bathroom and little did you know I ALWAYS read it. Whether it being the best-selling list or an article that you thought we would be interested in, I always noticed it and read everything.

I know what you are thinking right now. How are we going to do it? We will be fine. I promise you do not need to worry about us. We are all so strong and will be there for each other forever. We will and have been helping each other get through this. I have never seen mom so strong, dad. You would be so proud.

I am 20 years old and I have never felt younger. How am I going to live without a dad for the rest of my life? I am not talking about just any ordinary dad, it was you. You were the best man in the entire world. I will do it and I will do it for you. I promise.

I know you know how much I love you because we ended every single phone conversation and signed off every email with the words “I love you.” It didn’t seem right to hang up without expressing that to one another. It was the norm. Everyone knows how much you mean to me. I talk about you constantly to anyone I meet. People that don’t know me that well always know one thing about me and it is how crazy I was about you. I wouldn’t meet someone without talking about you just so they know what you mean to me.

I am so tempted to email this letter to you so you can edit it for me. I have never written anything in my life that you haven’t seen first.

I have been listening to Bruce Springsteen, your hero, while writing you this note and I just want to recite a line from one of his songs you’re missing.

Pictures on the nightstand, TV’s on in the den

Your house is waiting, your house is waiting

For you to walk in, for you to walk in

But you’re missing, you’re missing

You’re missing when I shut out the lights

You’re missing when I close my eyes

You’re missing when I see the sun rise

Children are asking if it will be alright. Will you be in our arms tonight?

You’re missing your missing.

I will NEVER EVER FORGET YOU DADDY. I LOVE YOU WITH ALL MY HEART AND I DON’T KNOW HOW I WILL GO ON WITHOUT YOU. I know that you would want us to be strong and so I am going to do that for you. I love you more than life itself and will NEVER forget you daddy!

Love,

Your daughter, Alex

20 thoughts on “Alex Zaslow, Daughter

  1. Jim Finkel says:

    Alex:

    Unlike many posters here, I did know your father. I had spoken with him off and on for years as I followed his path away from and then back to the WSJ. We were in the same fraternity at CM-U, although I was few years ahead of him. I was even lucky enough to hear him speak just outside Philly, during one his of book promotion tours.
    As I pulled up at Episcopal Academy, I saw your dad walking towards the lecture hall. I hurried up to get out of my car because I was not sure where to go. As a CM-U graduate I figured that following the featured speaker, I would be likely to end up at the right place. As always, your dad was a class act and individually acknowledged every one of his former fraternity fellows (by name) for having shown up to hear him.
    I loved his columns in the Journal and would burst out laughing as he drew humor from the most unlikely sources. What I remember most is that he was humble, almost unbelieving of his gifts. When he was given the assignment to try out to be the new Ann Landers, your dad took it seriously. When he was making the rounds of the talk shows for, “WSJ writer tries out for the new Ann Landers,” I was possibly the first to congratulate him before the formal announcement. I have spent enough time in marketing to realize that the publicity generated by his appearances pretty much guaranteed his “winning.”
    As a dad with a daughter, it must have been the onions as I read your letter. My daughter and I frequently share stories of some of our favorite moments. She often thanks me because she too, has learned how to write. She never looks at a blank piece of paper (or screen). She instead sees the story and proceeds to fill the page. Your Father would be proud you share his gifts as a story teller.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I could barely read with the tears streaming down my face. Your dad had a gift with writing and so do you Alex. You write with such poise and your love for your dad is so evident. He will always be a part of you no matter what. You have the beauty, smarts, and strength to move forward. You will undoubtedly accomplish so much in your future, and your dad will be watching over you proudly every step of the way.

  3. Ruth Shafrir says:

    Dear Alex, Reading your letter to your father moved a string in my soul. The inspiration one can draw from your examples can improve the relations between fathers and daghtern in the world, if only people will be exposed to it. It is a memorial to his life as a father.
    I wish you to have the streangth to follow his heritage while he is watching you from where he is.
    Sharing your sorrow with great love
    Ruti from Israel.

  4. Mary Ellen Thomas says:

    That was beautiful, Alex. I am thinking of you, Jordan, Eden and, of course, your mom at this most difficult time. The world loved your dad. He was special. He had a gift of making people feel special, too. You are all on our minds, and in our hearts.

  5. Anonymous says:

    so sorry for your loss keep his memories in your heart and he will always be there for you!

  6. Anonymous says:

    I am so sorry for your loss. I can see how much you loved your dad and how much you miss him. God bless you and your family.

  7. LC says:

    I worked at the Chicago Sun-Times and had the privilege to meet your Dad and assist him when Elizabeth (his assistant at the time) would travel on vacation. For approximately a months time I would come to his office and assist with some administrative functions. I remember at the time thinking how nice, friendly and energetic he was. I also volunteered to help with his annual Zazz Bash and was lucky enough to meet your beautiful mom one year.

    I bought and read Gabby – A Story of Courage and Hope. The minute I began to read the book I could hear your Dad’s voice. Your Dad’s writing style is like no one I have ever read.

    Your Dad was an amazing man with an amazing heart. Your letter to your father demonstrates the amazing daughter that you are.

    I tell my daughters regularly that I love them. However, I will make it a point EVERY single day for the rest of my life, I will tell my two daughters I love them.

    My sincere condolences to you, Jordan, Eden and your mom Sherry.

  8. Teresa Pratt says:

    What a great tribute to your dad sounds like you have alot of great memories for you to carry with you the rest of your life your dad sounds like he was a wonderful man you are all so very lucky to have had him sorry it was for such a short time and I am sure he is looking down on you right now may God bless all of you always and remember this God only takes the BEST. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family

  9. Anonymous says:

    Very touching. I lost my father recently, and I am going to write him a letter as well. Continuous prayers to you, Shari and all of his loved ones.

  10. Rob R says:

    Alex – your dad and I did the boardwalk dollar trick many,many times as kids. The hardest part was getting him to stop giggling… I think the first “audience” for his magic was Grandpa Lester and Aunt Lisa…grandpa always knew the tricks, but loved the showmanship. Your dad’s light lives within you always. He’s only a memory away.

    • Roger says:

      The condition is not caleld TMJ It’s TMD TMJ stands for Temporomandibular Joint. Meaning, it’s the joint itself a normal anatomy of your body, not a disease or condition. On the other hand, TMD stands for Temporomandibular Disorder. now, that my dear, is the condition.Do not generalize all dentist being such. There are dentists who are passionate with what they do. Those who take time in giving you the best care they can possibly offer. Sometimes, they do things fast so that you won’t feel uncomfortable having your mouth open for a long time.Regarding the prescription of pain killers: well, dentists prescribe their patients pain killers just to help them alleviate their pain and discomfort until the time they can visit the office again. It is true, so to speak that over-fillings can cause TMJ pains but, you have to understand that dentists make sure that their patients are comfortable before they dismiss them. They ask you several questions about how you’re feeling after the procedure before they send you home.I’m surprised you know about tempromandibular joint pains and the like. Are you a dentist yourself or did you just read articles about it on the internet?

    • Lieza says:

      When his first novel The Blue Bedspread came out I was really eixetcd about reading it (a fellow bihari and a fellow iitian). But I was a little disappointed, I should rather say baffled, by it at that time. I realized even then he has a very distinctive “voice” even if the story didn’t make much sense i read the entire book.I think it is very difficult to use real life atrocities like gujarat riots and *not to* turn them as background to your “stories” and finally arrive at some banal and obvious conclusions in the end, either despairing or uplifting. I hope he avoids this in the book…

  11. Laurie Goldman -Fischgrund says:

    What a beautiful tribute that you wrote to your dad. It made me cry. It also made me smile and laugh. I two do not have a dad. I understand your heartbreak and your pain. I believe that your dad will watch over you and guide you. You will feel him with you . I know that in life your dad will be proud of you. By reading the beautiful words that you have written. He already is . I send my love to you and your beautiful mom and sisters. My heartfelt condolences With Love. Laurie-Goldman Fischgrund

  12. Anonymous says:

    I did not know your father. I knew of him, of course. He was a totally committed 100% family man. I never had that kind of love from my family. G-d bless all of you. May your father rip.

  13. Joe Maitner says:

    My daughter, Meredith,is one of the brides in “The Magic Room.” My wife and I met Jeff only once briefly as he researched material for the book. In reading the book I found myself with tears in my eyes with each chapter, it was writtien in such touching fashion. What a gifted man to be able to elicit from people their personal stories and be able to re-tell them in such a sensitive manner. Autographed copies of “The Magic Room,” “Sullenberger,” and “The Girls of Ames” grace our bookshelf as treasured copies.

  14. Wow, such a beautiful, inspiring, touching letter to a Daddy from his Little Girl!! No matter how old you get Alex you will always be your Daddy’s Little Girl!! I don’t know you but i watched your Mom on Fox 2 News for many years, and still watch that news cast and when i heard what had happened i didn’t know how to go to their website to leave a personal condolences with her or to even see if they had set up anything like that where viewers could leave a comment, so on my facebook wall today i see Robin Schwartz had shared a note that the Daughter Alex had wrote to her Dad and i clicked on the Link eagerly wanting to read this note and as i started reading it i couldn’t help but stop and think about my own Daddy who now next month will be gone 20 years, How your feeling now is the very same thing i thought, felt when i was just 17 1/2 yrs old when my only Best, Best Friend in the world left me, my Daddy!!! My Daddy wasn’t a well-known person he was just a Truck Driver for a small Oil Company in Detroit but like your Dad and as well as mine i can say after reading your note, even though i never met or knew your Dad both of our Dad’s had this unique, God-given, Loving Ability to be a strong, supportive, Loving Family man who loved their family and cared about and helped anyone who came across their path in Life!! I didn’t know how i would go on either without my Daddy and did not think i would have made it this far, to 20 years Later but i go on with the re-assurance that he is at peace and at rest and that he is forever in my heart and certain things that may come up that i’m not too sure what to believe, what to think on how to handle a situation i will wonder, ok, what do i do?? I go sit quietly by myself and something will come to me to figure out how to solve something going on in my Life!!! Your Dad is with you and your family right now because he lives on in your hearts as well as the same for me with my Dad, i will never forget all the wonderful memories i have of my Daddy, he truly was an Angel sent to me and just as i pray when i feel sad because i miss my Dad, i always say “Thank-you to God for Blessing me with such a wonderful Daddy even if only for a short time that he was in my Life, i’am Blessed, honored & grateful the rest of my Life and beyond, that i had the opportunity to have known him as oppose to never have known him at all??? I know that I’am who i’am today because of my Daddy and the examples he set, the wisdom, knowledge,life’s lessons he taught and i learned from him, the determination, motivation, willingness, ability to do whatever it was he felt he had to do, needed to do or wanted to do??? Alex, i know you will go on because your Dad would want you to go on and by all means when you come to those times in Life when you really, really miss him GO AHEAD AND CRY, THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT, I STILL CRY TODAY FOR MY DADDY SOMETIMES, BUT I PROUDLY HAVE HIS PICTURE HANGING ON THE LIVING ROOM WALL FOR ALL TO SEE WHO COMES IN MY HOME, YES, THIS IS, MY DADDY, MY FRIEND, MY HERO IT HELPS TO SEE HIS PICTURE UP!! I don’t always cry as much as i used too, it does get better Alex over time but you never ever will really forget!!! The best part is, you don’t have to forget because that’s our choice wether we want to remember, but now forgetting and letting go are (2) two different things i struggled for a long time first with letting go then dealt with sadness and crying for a few years after i decided to let go, then i choose to remember him by having his picture up on the wall to feel the connection and to remember that time in my Life when he was a part of my Life. It was a long grieving process for me but we all do things and grieve differently and i’m now at the point of feeling happy when i recall memories of my Dad and my Mom!! Before my Dad Passed away my older Sister tragically lost her life in a car accident in 1984 and i believe that when my Dad passed it was hard for me to accept it that he was and is gone, and finally 3 1/2 years later my Mom passed away so i lost my sister and both my parents by the time i was 21 yrs old, and here i’am now 37 and even though i know their gone some days i feel like i wish i could call them or stop in to see them but i also do believe in my heart i will see them again one day when my time here on Earth is done!!! Thank-you so much for writing your note and sharing it and i can only hope by me sharing my experiences that you can draw strength, peace, hope from it and know that as you go on with your life your dad will be there with you every step of the way!!! God Bless You and your Family!! Love, Julie Pikarski

  15. Anonymous says:

    I really didnt know him but my regards and prayers go out o sherry and the girls, its always sad wen someone has slipped away so soon.

  16. Lisa barnett says:

    This is so sad but sweet my prayers go out to your family

    • Anonymous says:

      I did not know this amazing man-but, of course, knew of him. Totally 100% a family man-I never had that with my father or family. I’m so sorry for your loss-g-d bless all of you.

      • Robben says:

        I am so sorry for your lose, I have just lost my best friend touhgh its only been 8 months I still have days where I wake up and feel my heart break into pieces and my body dropping to the ground, as I grasped for air to me it is still surreal .to have someone taken away so suddenly (she also was killed in a car accident, she was 22)..someone you grew up with, someone you touhght you would grow old with .its just not fair .but I am learning life is not fair.I am so happy to hear your father is okay I’m not sure if you believe in God or what you believe in but for me I do believe that there is someone watching over us and that day someone, probably Mo, took care of your father. She is still with us in spirit so tell her story every time you think of her so she can live .I have made a blog in tribute to my best friend on my blog I have made a memorial page for anyone else who has lost somebody to share their loved ones with the world please take a look and if you’d like I’d love to share your story on my blog. It is still in process as I am waiting to get everyones pictures and stories but the first has been posted so you can take a look May Mo Rest In Peace And Until You Meet Again XOXO

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