In the beginning of 2014, I started writing for AfterTalk about grieving for a father. I did it to appease a family friend. Back then, I think we had three people who wrote the blog posts on the site, and the other two were actively running it. Some of you didn’t know me then, and many of you probably don’t remember, but I wrote my first post on manipulating my narrative. Essentially, I felt trapped in the story I told about the loss of my father. While effective at communicating how much I had overcome, my “shtick” was completely devoid of the grief and heartache that I still experienced everyday. I ended the post with a different story, and it was a short letter to my Daddy. It was simple and immensely childish. When I finished writing, I went into the bathroom of my dormitory, curled up in fetal position, and sobbed.
Ironically, for a website that’s original purpose was meant to facilitate writing letters to lost loved ones, that’s the last time I ever directly addressed my father in a post.
This website has allowed me to grow so much, and I believe I am a much better person now than in the dawn of 2014. AfterTalk has allowed me to communicate my experience to more people than I would ever have the energy to sit down and open my heart up to. I think I’ve even helped some people along the way, which is an odd and special experience for someone whose main occupation consists of being a massive narcissist and writing about themselves. In short, AfterTalk has been great.
However, I feel obligated to interrogate my choice to avoid writing direct letters as if it were the plague. As I’ve gone through college, I’ve transitioned from a creative writer to someone who is more a journalist, so having my material be relatable was something that I valued highly. Also, because addressing my father makes me cry. A lot.
Uttering the word “Dad” out loud is one of the most painful things I can experience. He’s not there anymore. There is no one living for me to call my dad. Just like the #2 speed-dial on my phone, which will forever remain unassigned, because after the default voicemail, my dad was always the first contact for me to call, the word is empty. I can’t talk to him anymore, he is dead, and it sucks so freaking much that you cannot even imagine.
However, his birthday is coming up on Friday, and I feel as emotionally clogged as the days I sat shiva. I feel horrible, and I want to cry, but there is a lump in my throat the size of Jupiter, and I can’t get any of this out. So here it goes; a letter:
I miss you a ton, and I don’t really know where to start. Objectively, I am very successful now. I go to an Ivy League School, and I have managed to dupe a lot of people into thinking that I’m not a crap writer. Oh yeah, I write now, I guess I didn’t do that back when you were around.
Jolie has grown up a lot, and she would probably want me to include that she is the funniest member of the family now. Mom started her own urban landscaping business, and all of her clients rave about her. Also, we got a new cat a while back.
In terms of pop culture, I think Eli Manning might’ve peaked, nobody watches cable anymore, and Donald Trump is running for President of The United States as a Republican.
Was this how I was supposed to write this letter? Maybe it was supposed to be more heartfelt? I’ll try harder next time to do it right. Until then, I love you more than anything.