One Year Later: Dear Dad

Dear Dad,

Today is November 14, 2019. One year ago today, at the age of 61, you took your last breath. I am taking the time to write you a letter today because I feel that it is the best way to recap the past year. The days and weeks after you passed were filled with to-do’s, going through old photos, and figuring out the holidays. Amidst the busy stuff and being submerged in the things that made up your life, it felt like you were still with me. I spent time sorting through your old surf shirts, looking at photos from jobsites, surf adventures, snowboard trips, and hunting days.

Mammoth Lakes circa 2006

After the holidays passed and we rolled into 2019, the grief of your departure hit me. I realized I did not know how to exist in a world that did not have you in it. I was no longer your little girl, that part of my identity had changed forever. I have missed our Sunday phone calls in which you would complain about work and the day-to-day stuff (which you secretly loved), and I would fill you in on how your granddaughters were doing in sports and school. I have missed wondering what your reactions would have been to memorable moments in the news or in the family. I have missed how you used to watch the weather in Florida and check up on me whenever there were storms or the threat of a hurricane headed my way.

I spent several months under a gray cloud wondering if I would ever feel the joy of little moments, the excitement of something new, and to laugh so hard you cry. I have had many moments when I have been going about my daily business and I have a sudden memory of you and can hear your voice. These moments stop me in my tracks completely and often bring tears to my eyes.

Quite a bit has happened over the past year and some things have not changed much at all. I took the girls to Mammoth Lakes for a week in the summer. They enjoyed the pool/jacuzzi, exploring Mono Lake, and shopping. We were able to do a thorough and long over due spring cleaning of the condo and discovered your collection of Mammoth Mountain ski season passes from the past 20 years. Both of your childhood homes in Los Angeles have been sold, further cementing the closure of a long chapter in my life.

Your granddaughters have grown another year older. Madalyn does not have the stocky Bendewish stature and is growing like a bean sprout. She is sweet and always eager to help. She would melt your heart. Jossalyn, on the other hand, has the Bendewish physique – short and strong. She has been excelling in gymnastics and her personality comes out through her many crazy facial expressions. She would crack you up.

Daily life has very much remained the same over the past year – family chores to daily work and school life. Though the routine of life has felt like drudgery from time to time, I believe the consistency has been good for me and provided purpose to get up and out of bed in the morning. My annual goal of completing a marathon each year has been put on hiatus. My focus on pursuing my PhD has stalled and I have not quite felt the joy of little things come back, nor the drive to tackle new challenges. However, I do believe I have faced two big hurdles over the past year. The first, grief. I have taken the time to grieve and not tried to fill the emptiness with quick fixes. I have learned that it is okay to be sad, to not be okay, and to miss you. Two, I have been focusing on healing from living crisis to crisis. Between your declining health and our own family struggles over the past several years, I had learned how kick things into high gear when a crisis hit – from jumping on a red eye flight from Florida to California to help you for a few days, to making last minute arrangements for the girls all while juggling a demanding work schedule. I had gotten to a point where I was living for the bad moments and constantly thriving on my ability to respond to an emergency. I have been working on getting a healthier perspective on life and to enjoy all the moments in between.

As I close this letter, I want you to know that I am beginning to look toward the future. We are putting family plans back on the calendar and thinking about new changes that will come our way in 2020.

I love you dad and I think of you everyday,

Your daughter,

Little “J.B.”

1 Comment

  1. Jim Vincent says:

    Very nice Jennifer. I too think of your Dad, and my long-time Pal often. we shared so many good times together it’s hard not to be reminded of him. These moments occur primarily during moments in my day-to-day life (work), as he was so instrumental in my career. This letter to your Dad is touching, but it is a nice way to keep everyone informed of how you are getting along. I say with conviction; Your Dad would be very Proud!

    Take care Jennifer and I’ll be sure to reach out to you on our Birthday.

    Like

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