A letter to you, Dad.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Dear Dad,

Hi. How are you? Um, it's me, your daughter..., but you probably knew that.

It's hard to believe that it's been eight years since you've been gone. Eight years today. I was 23 years old and visiting Luna in Chicago. They said you had a heart attack. They said you had surgery. They said you'd be fine. I thought I should come home, but Mom and Monica didn't think I needed to. I called you everyday, remember? Mom says that she'd remind you to call me and you'd tell her, "Oh, she already called." They let you out of the hospital after several days and sent you home. Mom wrote me an email and said that it felt like you two had won the lottery. I flew home from Chicago eight years ago today. I had met a boy the night before and was excited while I waited at the airport. I called the house, but the machine picked up. Then I called Monica, but Michael answered. He didn't sound like himself and he put her on. She, too, sounded weird and unlike my sister. I said, "Monica, what's going on?" She told me that we could talk later, but I insisted that we talk right then. There was a long pause before she said, "Kathleenie, Dad died this morning."

When I got on that plane and flew home, and up and into the clouds, I wondered where exactly you might have gone. I guess I'm still wondering that... I've said before that sometimes it feels like there's been a hole in my heart since that day, a hole in your shape, in the shape of my dad. In some ways that's true. In other ways, I feel anything but fatherless. You, in one way or another, are in my every moment. Maybe I never had to say goodbye because, really, where else could you be? In other ways, though, I find myself reaching for you, struggling for your memory, and wherever you've gone, I can't seem to find you. I have a feeling that I'll always be reaching for you, Dad.

More than anything else, I hope that you know how very, very proud I am to be your daughter. You taught me that people can turn their lives around, that people can be good fathers and good husbands without every having a role model. You taught me about generosity, love and fun. Remember when our neighbor's wife died? Remember how he was too upset to mow his gigantic lawn? You went out there and did it for him. You never knocked on his door or anything. You just went out there and did it. I can imagine him looking out his window and seeing you there, mowing his lawn. No matter if someday I take another last name or not, know that in my heart, because of moments just like that one, I can never really be anything other than a Bailey.

I hope that wherever you've gone, you know how happy your three daughters are. I really hope you can see your grandsons, my nephews. Dad, they are so smart, so funny and have so much personality. You would have loved being their grandpa more than anything else in the world. I hope you know that we tell them about you. Max thinks it's cool that people called you Buzz because it's just like Buzz Lightyear and Jude reminds me of you... Remember how I finished my undergraduate degree right before you died? I know how proud that made you because you didn't have the same opportunities I did. Well, Dad, I just got my Master's Degree. (Oh, and don't worry, I'm not planning on getting my Ph.D. I know you thought career students were weird.) I really hope you know that I'm, finally, in love. You probably were chuckling as you watched me frantically make dinner for Jenner last night. It was funny, but it did turn out pretty well.

I hope that wherever you are, there is football. I hope the Seahawks always win in heaven. Monica and I almost cried for you when they made it to the Super Bowl and you know I hardly even know what that means, except that it would have mattered to you. I hope you are playing cards with Grandma. Please tell her, if she doesn't already know, that I just moved to Las Vegas. She would have thought that was the most glamorous thing in the world and even though it's not, it still kind of is. (If you want, you might also tell her that I turned out just a little cuter than the last time she saw me. You know, if you have time.)

I hope you can visit Mom. She's been so brave, but you know that she's never recovered. If it's even possible, she just loved you too much. I guess we all did, Dad.

I know, in some ways, I must have been a very hard daughter to understand. I promise that I do shave my legs. Dad, it was just a phase in college, but I know it scarred you (as did the eyebrow piercing, but I assure you it's long gone too). I think that I would make you proud now, and I have the sneaking suspicion that as hard of a time as you sometimes gave me, I always did. Thank you for that.

Mom said that after you were taken that last time by the ambulance, the neighbors all stood in solidarity at the gate in the driveway. That's how much you meant to people, Dad. As much as I promise to continue moving forward and striving every day to be happy, instead of that melancholy teenager you once knew, know that, in so many ways, we're all still waiting at that gate for you. I believe that I'll see you there someday and maybe we can wait together for my own children.

I love you so much more than I ever could have told you when you were alive, but I believe that, somehow, wherever you are, you know.

Love, your daughter,


  1. What a beautifully sad post, it gave me goosebumps reading it! Lovely to know he'll never be forgotton, my heart goes out to you at this sad time xxx

  2. I just got chills.

    You are a beautiful writer, and a beautiful daughter. He must be so unbelievably proud right now.

    Just beautiful.

  3. That was one of the sweetest, most heartfelt and well written posts I've ever read!

    I obviously don't know you, but you seem to be a really wonderful person and a GREAT daughter!

    I have no doubt in my mind your father is smiling right now full of such pride.

  4. This is beautiful. What a great way to remember your dad today. I pray God gives you and your family peace today and always. Your dad must be so proud of you!

    I know you don't really know me, but I've really enjoyed reading your blog, and this post really touched me. Sharing beautiful stories like this is exactly why I love the blog world. Thank you!

  5. Oh darling.

    This made me cry.
    You know, you are such a beautiful person and he is so insanely proud of the beautiful woman you have become. How perfect you are.

    the way you write shows your soul. Your lovely soul. And anyone who reads, feels what you are feeling. I'm so sorry for your loss my darling,but just know, that I know he is watching you and beaming with pride, love, and honor. Because he has such a perfect person of a daughter.

  6. Wow, amazing, breathtaking post. Im sure your father is very proud of you.

  7. *sending some hugs and smiles your way* this was beautiful.

  8. What a touching post. You have a way with words! Your whole family must be proud of you, especially your dad.

  9. As Max just said, "I wish I had a fishing pole and I could go fishing with Buzz right now." To which, I simply replied, "Me too Max, me too."

    I love you sis, and yes, we are all proud of you.

  10. Actually, as I think about it, it doesn't seem possible it's been 8 years. Sometimes it feels like a lifetime ago. Two degrees and love for Kathleen, marriage and two babies for me. How is it possible our sweet Buzz isn't here for this? For mom. For these boys. For us. It isn't possible. It isn't the same life, for me. It is two lives. Two lifetimes. Both wonderful and lucky, but different.

    Maybe that is how we continue forward. We learn that things cannot be the same, becuase if we hold on to that hope, life cannot deliver. So we choose happiness, not passively like the happiness that falls randomly into your lap, but actively... we take each day as it comes and find the good in it and make the best we can of whatever life brings. At least that's how I do it, because I want to be happy and I have so much to be thankful for and even with all of that... it would be hard to be happy in this lifetime without Buzz Bailey.

    "Looking back on the memory of
    the dance we shared, 'neath the stars above
    for a moment, all the world was right
    how was I to know that you'd ever say goodbye

    And now I'm glad I didn't know
    the way it all would end
    the way it all would go
    our lives are better left to chance
    i could have missed the pain
    but i'd have had to miss the dance"

  11. I'm crying. This was one of the most amazing things I have ever read...he is still with you. He watched you make dinner last night, I know it.

    He is so proud of you!
    I love you. I can't wait to talk to you tomorrow.

  12. There are so many things to say, but I think the simplest is this, I love you. Thank you for inviting me into your family, I can't imagine a life without all of you.

    My heart feels heavy with a mixture of pride, bewilderment, nostalgia and grief. It's hard for me to even comprehend how yours must feel.

  13. kathleen, i really connected with this post. I truly believe that as long as we keep our fathers' memories alive, they are not completely gone. isn't it amazing how your father and my father lived to be such wonderful people, and we, as their children, get to carry on their legacy? i feel so proud to be able to do that, and i'm sure you do too. you're a beautiful writer, and your dad seems like he was someone unforgettable. I hope you have a great night full of precious memories :)

  14. You have the most amazing writing style, it's so touching. He's smiling I'm sure, because you seem like such an aming person. Stop by my blog tomorrow becuase there'll be a small something for you xoxo

  15. I've been reading your blog for a few weeks now (I don't know how I stumbled across it!) You really are a fantastic writer and daughter. I'm sitting at my desk crying and I don't even know you. Be so proud of your ability to make others really feel.

  16. wow. I am crying at my desk in my office. This was the most beautiful, purest, lovely thing I have EVER read. EVER. My heart and throat still hurts, I can't get over how much this beautiful, open letter is. I'm sure your Dad is smiling and so proud of you, his darling daughter.

    People sometimes tell me that I am brave for sharing some of the things I write about, but they are wrong. This here, this here is brave.


  17. Kathleen, that was one of the most beautiful things I've ever read. I need to go take a break now, so my co-workers don't think I've lost it for good! I too am so proud of your courage, strength, and love for life that you show in so many ways. I am so glad to know you!

  18. That was so beautiful. I just KNOW that he is so proud of you. It sounds like he was a wonderful man.

  19. ohhhh kathleen! that was so beautiful. i'm sitting here weeping right now trying to think of something to say. your dad is so proud of you every single day - for all the kind things you say, for how beautifully you phrase things, for how happy you are in all circumstances, for how much you love jenner, for being brave enough to move to another state to be with him. your dad did a great job raising you. he must have shown you so much love growing up. i'm so happy that you had that, kathleen. it's so special. i know it must be heartwrenching to lose a parent (levi's mom died of brain cancer when he was 19 - he actually had to say goodbye to her in oregon knowing that it was the last time he would ever see her), but it's so amazing that you had him while he was here, that you have him now in your heart, and that you'll have him again one day in heaven. i'm so happy for you that you're choosing to honor your dad today and remember him in such a beautiful way.

  20. Awwww this made me cry.
    You are so sweet and this post was beautiful.

  21. hope you are well-hugged today. love you. miss the piss outta ya.

  22. Very touching...and heartfelt. I almost cried.It reminded me of my grandfather, I lost him to heart-attack, too. Seven years ago in Jan.

  23. this is so sweet. i love the photos, too.

  24. that is so beautiful. so sad. so touching. you have a way with words. :)
    oh and thank you so much for your lovely comments on my blog! :)

  25. That was just beautiful Kathleen. I had tears in my eyes reading this. I love my dad so much and know that I would be as heart broken as you are without yours when my dad passes (which I hope he doesn't for a very long time). Your dad would be so proud of you and achieving all that you have. =)

    {and thanks for visiting my blog and for your lovely comment!}

  26. This is a very touching letter written with all your heart to a loving father ! I do believe in God with all my heart and Know the people we once loved and always will can see us and hear us from above. Your dad must be so proud of you. This made me realise how much I love my parents and how precious life is. So thank you for reminding me of this
    wish you all the best in these difficult moments

  27. I'm so sorry for your loss. Wherever your Dad is I bet he's smiling!

  28. I'm so sorry about your father. What you wrote is beautiful and I'm sure watching over you.

  29. im lying here in bed sobbing.

    and wishing that i was with you. that we were real-life friends. not just blog-world friends.

    i can't say anything that someone hasn't already said. that was glorious. and perfect. and you're father must have been one hell of a man.

    life is too short. and it's impossible. and it's not fair that your father only got to have 23 years with you in this world. but yes, yes, he's with you now and always.

    i have no words for all that im feeling.

    thank you. thank you so much.

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  31. very sincere and lovely post. I bet he's looking down on you beaming with pride and a big smile. =)

  32. this is killing me. it hurts so much. but it seems you are at peace with the love you have for him. wah. i am bawling.

  33. This is a beautiful post. Than you for sharing--I'm sure talking/ writing about this doesn't get any easier with time. You make me want to wrap my arms around everyone I love and tell them how important they are to me...

  34. Oh Kathleen such a touching post...the way you are writing about your Dad is beyond beautiful. I can't imagine what you have been through...So all I say is thanks for sharing your feelings in such a wonderful way. Much love: Evi

  35. this was so touching. thank you so much for sharing such an intimate, moving post.

  36. I just read this and am so glad I did. It brought me to tears. (Right here in my cubicle!) I bet it was a very therapeutic experience for you to write this. It's beautiful and moving. The more I read your writing, the more I feel like I can relate to you in many ways. It's such a strange but beautiful phenomenon that comes with blogging. We bare our souls through our words and in some ways it makes for an even stronger connection than a face to face one. Anyway, thank you for writing this.

  37. can you guess that this made me cry?? of course, i am a boob! you are so sweet and i am sure your dad is so proud of you!

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  42. dont have words to express my feelings right now. its so heart touching that it almost made me cry.it reminds me of my father's death exactly the same process,sudden cardiac arrest in the morning,went to hospital,gone through successful surgery i talked to him on phone but another attack took away his life. i lost my father and life without him isnt the same anymore

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