Friday, September 02, 2016


Hey, daddy. I'm not sure why I'm writing this. I'm not sure what I think is going to happen. I think maybe I'm grasping desperately at closure. Or maybe I'm grasping desperately at talking to you. Either way, here it is.

I still miss you so much. When I think about you, or about the last three months of your life, or the months since, it makes my chest physically ache. It makes me ache, and then if I keep thinking about it I feel sort of like a cannon ball hit me in the stomach, like my whole body wants to curl around something huge that hit me in the guts and I don't have any control over it.

I've written here before about the strained relationship we had over the years. And I know we were never best friends, even all the way at the end. But I have to admit, I felt like during the last 6 or 7 months of your life something shifted, and we were a little closer, and a little more understanding of each other, and a little more aware of what made each other tick.

I have to admit that for a time I thought that Jennifer was your favorite, and I was jealous and a little resentful. Okay, more than a little resentful. I never showed it to you or to her; it was something that lived inside my head and wiggled around every now and then and made me flinch. And in those last months of your life I realized how silly it was for me to be jealous or to think she was your favorite. You love us both; we had different relationships with you because she and I are different people- it makes perfect sense. And all those times I was jealous or mad because of things the two of you shared that we didn't share, I should have realized that the reverse was true as well- there were things that you and I shared that you and Jennifer didn't share. It's the nature of divorce and half-siblings and living a few hours away from each other: we're going to have different experiences and different perceptions of what is important and what is happening and what's being said and what's being felt. I see that now, and it gives me some peace.

However, I also have to say that even with my secret jealousy and insecurity, I have always loved Jennifer. When I was a kid she was my pretty, cool older sister that would come visit. I had one pretty, cool older sister that I lived with and saw all the time and drove crazy, so when Jennifer came to stay with us I piled it on thick since I didn't see her as much. I wanted her to play board games with me and play Barbies with me and play dolls and grocery store and whatever else I could think of. As we got older I loved and admired her. I remember at my wedding, standing and talking to her, and bunch of the kids came running by passing too close to the corner of a table. I grimmaced and put my hands over the corner, and once they passed I looked at her and said, "I get so nervous when they do that, like one of them is going to crack their head open." She laughed, and then smiled at me and said, "Don't worry, you CAN'T kill 'em." I have gone on to give that little jewel of advice to many of my friends. All the times we all gathered at your house for Christmas or for a random summer visit, I loved talking to her and something about the way she laughed and talked about herself or her kids in this self-deprecating way and made me laugh with her reinforced how much I love her, even if we didn't know each other that well.

And when you were sick and kept telling me over and over that you wanted Jennifer and me to be friends, to love each other, to be pals, it was confusing to me. I kept thinking, why wouldn't we be? Of course we'll be pals and friends and love each other and help each other. Just your being sick had given Jennifer and me a new relationship in which we texted and called each other and updated each other on what was going on with you and asked how the other was doing with this difficult, sad situation. She said to me "We're going to need each other." And I knew she was right, that we were going to be incredibly important to each other as we dealt with your terrible illness, and then your death. I opened up and shared with her things that were embarrassing to me or painful to me or hard for me, to make sure she knew that I intended to build a better, closer relationship with her.

I know that over the years Wanda and I weren't close, and that she and I are very different people. I suppose that we never connected and never found common ground to be able to attempt to build much of a relationship. But we were never ugly to each other; I never felt the desire to be ugly to her and I assumed she never felt the desire to be ugly to me. It never bothered me very much; I sort of just chalked it up to the fact that we can't be best friends with every person we ever meet in life. There are people you're automatically going to click with and fall in love with and build beautiful relationships with, and there are people you're going to be nice to and see sometimes and make polite conversation with and that's going to be about it. I could see that she truly loved you and you truly loved her and that made me happy for both of you, and grateful to her for being there.

When Brett died two-and-a-half years ago, I didn't know what to do for you. I could see that it broke you, broke your heart, and all I knew to do was to tell you I love you and ask questions about how you felt and how you were doing and try to say I love you to you a lot. Then your dog Levi died a few months later, and it broke my heart and I worried about you so much. And when I saw you I could tell you were different, muted in some way, which says a lot since you were never incredibly verbose to begin with. I sincerely don't know if I did or said the right things or as many things as I should have.

I know I was a shitty daughter sometimes, a lot of times, in a lot of ways. There are probably about a MILLION ways I could have been better, more loving, more present. But I also know that you weren't a great dad all of the time. The honest truth is that you weren't around much when I was a kid. You left around 5 in the morning to go to work, and you poured yourself through the front door after golf and many rounds of beer at the 19th hole around midnight or one most nights. Once I got into my teenage years, old enough to form an opinion that I thought might have been valid (it probably wasn't), I felt alienated from you. Once I got a few years older than that, it always seemed like your disappointment in me was palpable- it felt like another person in the room when we were together. I simultaneously wanted to gain your approval and your affection, and wanted to not care because I was too cool to obsess about my dad's approval. By the time I had moved out of mom's house and was going to college and learning who I was going to be, I didn't make much of an effort to be with you or be close to you. Of course hindsight lets me see how stupid that was- of course I'd give the majority of my shit to spend another day or two with you NOW, but then my stupid, early twenties self thought, this is the relationship that the two of us have, this is how it is. And I spent a lot of time blaming you for our relationship being that way, even though buried deep in my mind was the knowledge that I could have changed it and it wasn't all up to you.

I will always cherish the three months that you were sick. It hurts my heart to even admit that, and it hurts my heart even more that I think that. But during those three months you and I were vulnerable with each other and honest with each other in ways that we never had been before. You were openly flawed and afraid and heartbroken with me. And while I wish you'd never felt those things or been those things with me and OF COURSE that you'd never been sick in the first place, I have a little chunk of my heart now that holds those moments with you when you weren't the guy that was checked out of my life, or the guy that was telling me all the things I was doing wrong, or the guy lecturing me about what I ought to be doing, but instead you were the guy that was telling me you love me, and telling me that you were afraid, telling me that you were hurting, telling me what you wanted for you and what you wanted for me. Somehow now it exists in this weird place where I simultaneously wish you'd never had to go through what you went through, but still grateful that we had those moments to be honest with each other, and for you to stop being my dad who was disappointed with me and thought I should be doing better, and start being my dad who wanted to tell me what he was going through and wanted me to be there to make him feel better. I will never take for granted the amount of time we spent alone together talking, or not talking, watching tv, talking about golf or basketball, talking about people we know and what they're up to, or just being in the room together. I'll never forget what your face looked like when you'd have finally closed your eyes and rested for a minute, or ten minutes, or 30 minutes, and then suddenly woke up and turned to look at me and relaxed a little seeing I was still sitting there. I'll never forget, when I talked about Reed playing baseball, you patiently listening as I talked about his progress, and then saying, "Well is he having fun?" I'd say, "Yes, he says he loves it." And you'd say, "Well that's the only thing that's important."

I'll always regret that Reed didn't start baseball until you were too sick to watch him play.

I'll always regret that the most time you were able to spend with Philip was after you were sick. I'll never forget Phil bringing you lunch or helping out around your house or sitting and talking to you about golf, and Phil calling me at work and telling me how you were doing.

I'll never forget the chili dogs and slaw dogs. I'll always regret that there wasn't time for more of them.

I'll never forget that I wasn't there the moment you died. I'm ridiculously flawed, and ridiculously uncomfortable and selfish, and I pushed myself to be there with you so much, but I also stupidly got terrified and ran away a lot of times. The last weekend you were alive was excruciating to witness. I know how self-involved that must sound, saying it was excruciating for me, when I can't imagine and have no idea how excruciating it was for you. You came home from the hospital on a Thursday, and I could see that afternoon that things were moving much more quickly than I expected, that you weren't nearly as long for this world as I thought you'd be. I had never done that before- watched someone I love fade and fade and then disappear. I'm sure it's probably common once someone dies to think, did I do enough? I'm very aware that I should have been there more and done more. I, like everybody, make mistakes and have flaws and fears and don't always do the right thing. I only hope that you know how much I love you, that you knew how much I love you before you died, and you understand and forgive me for running away some.

The Friday before you died, I dreamt that I was sitting by your bed with you, in your bedroom, not the hospital bed in the living room where you spent your last days. We were there together, just the two of us. You turned your head to the window and said, "The moon sure is full out there." I looked and said, "Yeah, but it's not a full moon yet; the full moon is tomorrow night."

You died that Tuesday, March 22nd. The night of Wednesday, March 23rd, there was a full moon.

After you died I kept expecting to dream about you- happy dreams in which you told me you were happy and free of pain and fear, sad dreams about when you were sick or about how much I wanted you to still be here, anything. But I didn't. I didn't dream about you for a long time. Probably about two months after you died I finally saw you: in a dream you came in my front door and I said, "Where have you been? I thought you were dead! Are you sick? What happened?" I can't remember the exact explanation, but I remember you said you'd had to go away for a while and you'd had to let people think you were dead for some crazy dream reason. You told me you were back now, and you weren't sick, and everything was fine. I cried so hard and hugged you.

Just a few nights ago I dreamed about you again. Everything was just totally normal, and you were telling me you were going to teach me how to play golf.

Five days ago Reed suddenly cried and told me he misses you so much. Four days ago Philip told me he talks to you when he needs answers or guidance. I haven't gone a single day since you died without thinking about you and missing you. I have talked to you some, but talking to you hurts even more than thinking about you.

I spent Fathers Day this year feeling numb and disconnected.

Shortly after you died, Jennifer and Wanda cleaned out the garage together. Having told Jennifer that I wanted to spend time with her when she came to town, on top of having told Wanda I wanted to help with cleaning out the garage/going through your things/etc., I was hurt and angry and having been kept out of it. Jennifer repeatedly assured me that all they did was go through everything and throw out garbage, "literal garbage", she kept saying.

Somewhere around this same time I texted Jennifer and asked if she knew when we'd be getting together to read the will. All I know to say about that is, I'm stupid. I'd never been through the death of someone this close to me before. In movies and tv shows, when someone dies, the family gets together to read the will. I just assumed that that was something people did, so I assumed we'd be doing that with yours. I can see where someone might take that to mean I was greedy and entitled and wanted a bunch of stuff or money, but I just assumed that was a standard thing people did and that it was something we would do. She told me she didn't think we would be getting together to read the will, that we already knew what we were getting, and then there were life insurance policies in our name, and that everything else went to Wanda and that's standard. I said okay, and thanked her for the information, and told her I didn't want to upset Wanda by asking and I just didn't know what was supposed to happen. This conversation, along with the garage cleaning, eventually led to me telling Jennifer that I felt hurt and intentionally left out, left in the dark. This devolved into Jennifer telling me she wasn't going to correspond with me without Wanda being included, that I had asked her questions that weren't hers to answer, that I had been abusive to her (verbally), I had pumped her for information, accused her of things, and made her feel unsafe.

A few days later Wanda asked me to come over and we had what I thought was a civil, much needed conversation about everything- why I wasn't there when you died, the will, your belongings, how we felt about you, how we felt about each other, a lot of stuff. After we talked Wanda insisted that I go downstairs and view the pile of "literal garbage" before it was thrown out. I found metal bucket with golf ball graphics that I gave you for Fathers Day when I was little. When I opened it, I found a glow in the dark golf ball I'd given you long ago, a lavender and turquoise golf ball you'd bought me from the Terry Walker Pro Shop when I was nine, a few brightly colored golf balls from an evening of putt putt on one of our many trips to Panama City, some Terry Walker golf ball markers, and Levi's Alabama hat. I remember we used to love putting that hat on Levi, because he would stand perfectly still and cast his eyes downward in shame and embarrassment. I was never sure if Levi just didn't like wearing the hat, or if he was a closet Auburn fan. I wish I'd had the courage to say to Wanda or Jennifer that this, THIS is why I wanted to be included. What looks like "literal garbage" to them might look like a treasure to me.

After that Jennifer and I mended our relationship. I'm sure we both had some lingering feelings of resentment, but we both tried to move on.

Five days before my birthday, I found out that Wanda had sold y'all's house. I texted her to ask her about it; when she didn't respond I texted Jennifer. Jennifer said yes, she'd sold it, the first person to look at it bought it, she had to be out by July 4th. I said, "Wow, that's fast!" To be clear, what I meant was she didn't have much time until she had to be out of the house, not that she had sold the house so soon after you died. However, I think it's fair to say 3 months after you died is kind of fast to have sold the house. But I also knew that she would eventually move to be closer to her family; I was surprised at the time frame, not the fact that she did it.

Wanda eventually responded and asked me to come over the next night to talk about it. Philip, Reed, Kylie and I went that Thursday night, expecting to hang out and talk, and for her to sort of just generally chat about selling the house, moving to Tennessee to be closer to her daughters and grandchildren, that kind of thing. What happened when we got there Philip later referred to as "walking into a buzz saw". While my ten year old son and nine year old step-daughter watched and listened, Wanda got Jennifer on speaker phone and proceeded to tell me that she had no interest in being in my life, in having me in hers, in talking to me, telling me what she was doing, finding out what I was doing. She said that the people at Terry's told her I was in there all the time "digging for information" on her. She said that I hurt you all the time by not talking to you unless I needed money, by not calling you or coming over on holidays. She said, "You only called him when you needed money or a baby sitter. And I only know about the times when he said yes! I'm sure you called asking for money lots of other times and he said no, but just didn't tell me about it." She said she had tried and tried and tried to build a relationship with me, and I never made any effort, and now that you were gone she's done with me. When I started to cry and said I was floored by what she was saying, she pursed her lips and said "I'm just telling the truth. Jennifer told me you were raising a ruckus about me selling the house. Frankly I have no desire to let you know what I'm doing." Jennifer said that it was unfair of you to expect her and me to be friends. She said over the years she had repeatedly changed her schedule so that she could visit when it was convenient to me and then I wouldn't show. She said, since you'd died, she asked about Reed and baseball, and I never asked about her kids. She said Philip and I should have been at your house more while you were sick to take some of the load off of her and Wanda, that she couldn't believe we would leave to go home, that she and Wanda didn't eat or sleep for days and how could Philip and I leave them there, how could we go knowing they weren't sleeping or eating. Throughout this conversation, I attempted to break in when I could, but it was hard between how mortified and hurt I was, how hard I was crying, and how much they had to say. I managed at some point to say, "Do you feel like you're accomplishing something by saying these things to me? Do you think daddy would want you to be saying these things to me?" I managed to say, "I don't presume to know or to tell either of you what your relationship with daddy was. Don't try and tell me what my relationship with him was. We spent time together and called and texted plenty of times that you probably don't know about, so you don't get to tell me what my relationship with him was." I said, "I know he loves me and he knows I love him." I may have said, or it might have just been a thought in my head that I didn't get out, "We live 3 minutes away, and the house was full of people staying from out of town. I didn't think there was room for us and I didn't think anyone needed or expected us to spend the night." I said, "Reed is not old enough to stay home alone yet." Jennifer replied, "My kids aren't either. I made arrangements for childcare." I know Phil said, "No one ever asked me to spend the night", to which Wanda loudly replied, "SHOULD I HAVE HAD TO ASK?" I know at some point I managed to say, "Look, Wanda doesn't have to run things by me. I'm not suggesting she ought to tell me when she's going to Walmart. I'm not suggesting she should have asked my permission to sell the house. I'm not suggesting she ought to care how her selling it makes me feel. What I'm saying is that I wish she had wanted to tell me she was selling it to allow me some time to emotionally say goodbye to the last place my dad lived, the last place he was alive." Jennifer said, "Well did you call Wanda when you bought a new car with your inheritance?" I said, "You mean the insurance money? Are you suggesting Wanda needed to say goodbye to my insurance money?" I know at some point Philip took up for me, and told them that he couldn't just sit there and listen to the "Buffy bashing party". I know about half way through what would end up being an hour and a half or two hour reaming, Reed started to cry, and Kylie laid down on the couch and covered her face with a pillow. I know eventually, Reed stood up and walked out of the house, and Kylie followed him. A few minutes later Philip stood up and said he was done, and he needed to go check on his kids. Apparently he sat with Reed and after a few minutes Reed said, "We are NEVER coming back here again." Then a few minutes after that Reed said "If mom isn't out here in five minutes I'm going in to get her and tell her it's time to go." I am absolutely not including the whole conversation, my words or theirs, because it seemed to last so long and I was so shocked by everything they said and I know I don't even remember all of it. Throughout, I kept thinking to myself "I don't deserve this shit and they don't deserve for me to listen so I'm leaving"; but then something else in my head would say, "No, you're staying, so they know you aren't afraid of them and they don't have the luxury of saying you wouldn't listen to them." So I stayed.

I don't know if I will ever be a big enough person to forgive them for what they tried to take from me. Three months after you died, in reaction to my texting "Did you sell the house?", they suddenly felt the need to surprise me with this tag team of awful, terrible things, to tell me all these things about what a bad daughter and step-daughter and sister I was, that I hurt you and took you for granted, and that I was SO bad in fact that they felt no need or obligation to ever speak to me again, to remain in my life at all or let me remain in theirs. I don't know why, I don't know what they felt like they would gain, but they were trying to take you from me; they were trying to take away what I know about our relationship, what I know about our mistakes and our love and our missteps and our effort to have a relationship, no matter how imperfect. And they did it at a time when they knew I couldn't ask you if these things were true, if you agreed with them, if you thought I was as terrible as they did.

And not only did I have to withstand this tidal wave of sewage, but my son and step-daughter did too. Reed had to listen to Wanda say that, not only did I USE you as a babysitter (I didn't), but he had to feel the implication that you somehow were spending time with him because I asked and not because you wanted to (you weren't). Kylie, who throughout your illness asked CONSTANTLY how you were feeling, what was happening with you, if you were okay, had to listen to them say they were done with me, and feel the implication that by extension, they were done with her and Reed and Kendell too. At any point, before we came over, or after we walked through the door, or once they started to talk, Wanda could have told me this wasn't a conversation for kids. She could have told me "Don't bring the kids, I want just us to talk." After we walked in and my kids gave Wanda a belated Mother's Day present and card for God's sakes, Wanda could have asked the kids to go hang out downstairs and watch tv, or step outside and catch lightning bugs, or step outside so we could have grown up talk. And make no mistake, Jennifer knew they were there too; when Wanda got Jennifer on the phone and put her on speaker, she said, "I'm sitting here with Buffy, Phil, Reed and Kylie", and Jennifer said hello to the kids. Maybe I'm being overprotective or maybe I'm overreacting, but I just can't bring myself to think that any of those things needed to be said in front of two of your grandkids, especially two who were ten and nine years old.

When we left, Wanda walked out with me and went to the truck where Reed and Kylie were sitting in the back seat, and hugged them and blew them kisses and said "Love you!" I could almost literally taste bile in my mouth; I wanted to slap her hand away from them and say "Don't you DARE make them cry, make them listen to all that BULLSHIT, and then confuse them further by pretending that they didn't just see and hear what they saw and heard AND trying to be close and loving." But I didn't. As we drove away, Reed said, "They should NOT have talked to you like that and treated you that way." Kylie said, "Yeah, and me and Reed probably shouldn't have heard all of that." I turned around and said, "You're both right, and I know that must have been really weird and scary for you, and I'm sorry I let y'all sit in there and hear it." Once we were home, I talked to them about it and told them that at any point, if either of them wanted to talk to Philip or me about everything they'd heard, they should absolutely come to us and ask- but beyond that, they should do their very best to erase the entire encounter from their minds. I told them to know in their hearts and minds that none of the crap Wanda and Jennifer said had anything to do with Papa Ron; that you loved and love them and Philip and me, and you know that Philip and I and they loved and love you so, so much. I said, "Forgive and forget: forgive them for being so terrible to us, and then forget that it ever happened. Jesus would want us all to try to do that." Reed said, "Yeah, you're right, Jesus would want that. But we're never going there again, right?"

Four days later, on my 37th birthday, Wanda sent me a text that said, "Happy birthday! Enjoy!" It was the first time in my entire life that Wanda had ever sent me a happy birthday text.

I'm writing all of this now because you're not here, and you weren't here that night. I don't think in my whole life, before you were sick or after you were sick or after you died, I've ever wanted to talk to you as much as I did that night. I wanted to tell you how much I have always loved you. I wanted to ask you if you really felt the way they said you felt about me. I wanted to ask if you doubted that I love you. I wanted to beg you to forgive me for every time I've ever messed up and tell me that you understand that I'm not perfect and that you understand that, even when I wasn't a good daughter, you still knew I loved you and needed you. I wanted to hug you and and I wanted you to tell me that even though I messed up some, you messed up some too, everyone messes up, and that I didn't deserve the things they'd said and the way they'd made me feel. I wanted you to tell Reed and Kylie how much you love them and how glad you are that they're in your life.

The whole encounter that night reopened, drastically deepened, and threw a hand full of salt in the wounds I already had from watching you get sick and die so suddenly and unexpectedly. In the months since that night I haven't been able to close them. I have prayed and meditated and distracted myself and talked to you, out loud and in my head; I've pushed my mind and heart to be so full of the good things- gratitude that I had you as long as I did and that we were able to spend as much time together in your last three months and that you were here long enough to know Reed and Philip and Kendell and Kylie- that there isn't any room for the bad things- anger at Wanda and Jennifer doing that to me and my family, anger at you for not being here to protect me from them, fear that what they said might be right, fear that you wouldn't have wanted to protect me from them. But I'm imperfect (understatement) and obsessive (serious understatement) and I'm just... in pain. I miss you and I'm sad you're not here and, whether you'd have been on their side or my side or somewhere in the middle, I just desperately wish we could talk about it.

Look, complete honesty: I know that Jennifer and Wanda built a close relationship with each other. I know that Wanda and I didn't do that. But I've never disliked her or wished she wasn't your wife, and I have always known she loves you very much and was a loving, caring wife to you. I have always just been okay with the fact that she and I were very different people and we weren't going to be best friends or close, but that we would always be friendly and nice to each other when we spent time together. I know that Jennifer and I are half sisters who live in different states and have always lived in different states and that we don't see each other much or know each other very well. But since I was a little kid I've always loved her and liked who she was. When she said to me, "We're going to need each other to get through this", I completely agreed.

And hey, honesty: I know that I asked you for help, a.k.a. money, a lot of times over the years. And you helped me a lot of times over the years. I mean, a LOT. In the spirit of being honest about myself, I can say here that you paid the closing costs when Jason and I bought our house, you paid for every vehicle I've ever owned (except for a few monthly payments on the Honda, but not enough for me to pretend I paid for that car), you paid the outrageous emergency vet bill when Zelda got parvo as a puppy, you paid the deposit on Philip's and my apartment (sidenote- one of the few times you said "no" that Wanda was talking about- I asked if you would cosign on the apartment because Phil and I didn't have the $800 deposit; you said no, you wouldn't cosign, you'd just pay the deposit), you bought the house Phil and I are living in now. We were supposed to buy the house from you- the reason you were involved is because we couldn't get a mortgage-, but in a final move of Little Caesar's generosity you willed the house to us so we didn't have to pay for it. And that list is vastly incomplete. And I don't think there are words for me to accurately express how grateful I am for every single time you've helped me, and how sorry I am that I ever had to ask for help in the first place. But somehow we managed to make it through my whole life, even with all that time we spent alone together in those last three months of your life, without you telling me that you were hurt or angry that I asked, or that you wish I hadn't asked, or that you thought there was something wrong with me for asking. More honesty!- when I would ask, you would always ask me questions about what I was doing and steps I was taking to not have to ask you for help in the future, and you would make sure I knew that you expected me to work my ass off to take care of myself and not just think I could call you up any time I needed something. You wanted me to be strong and live up to my potential and take care of myself. But, I think, the reason you wanted me to be those things is because you wanted to know that you didn't have to be afraid for me or worry about me, not because you thought I was a shit for asking you. When I told you, so many years ago, that Jason and I were getting married, you expressed concern because I was still in college and Jason didn't make a whole bunch of money; you said, "I know I haven't always been around and I haven't always been a good father. But I love you and I want to know that you are safe and happy and that you are being taken care of."

Right now I want to say to you, I know I haven't always been a good daughter. I know I have asked you for a lot- a lot of money, a lot of help, a lot of patience. I know I haven't always been around as much as a good daughter would. But more than anything in this world right now, I hope you know that I love you, that I've always loved you, that I am so glad that you are my dad, that I've never wished I had a different dad, and that I always knew and still know how lucky I was to have you. I hope you know that every last penny you've ever given me was a big deal to me, that I was grateful, that I was ashamed I even had to ask. I hope you know I forgive you for any shortcomings you ever had as my dad, and I'm praying you can forgive me for my many shortcomings as a daughter.

I am heartbroken for you that Brett died. I can't imagine how painful that must have been and how it must have changed the way your brain worked on a day-to-day, or hour-to-hour, or minute-to-minute, or second-to-second, basis. I can't even bring myself to think about Reed and think about what that experience must have been like for you.

I am grateful that you had and have Wanda and Jennifer, because I know how much you love them and how much they love you. But I am holding out hope that they were wrong about me, or were at least wrong to do what they did to me. And it's not because I think I'm perfect or great or because I want them to feel bad or wrong, but because I can't bear to think of those last days of your life and think that maybe, on top of all the pain and sadness and fear you were feeling, you were thinking any of those things that they said to me.

And finally, I'm sorry that it took fucking cancer for some of these things to be said between us, or for me to be writing them now. I can't say enough, I am hopelessly flawed. It's one of life's bizarre cruelties that sometimes we don't know certain things until it's too late to use that knowledge. All I know to do now is keep praying, and keep talking to you, and keep talking to Jesus, and keep loving you and missing you, and keep talking to Philip and my mom and India and my friends when I feel afraid or sad, and keep reminding Reed how great and funny and fierce you were and keep telling him stories about you and reminding him how much of a Channell he is.

I know one day I'll see you again. I hope you'll be watching us and I hope you'll make your presence known to me as much as you can. I know you're up there in heaven with Mubo & Papaw, Brett, Levi, Beno and Nicki- I can't even imagine the ruckus that group must make. I know one day I'll see you again. I just want to make sure you know I'll be thinking about every day between now and then.