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!
Your daughter, Alex