Letters to Heaven
I’m writing you to wish you a happy birthday. My dad posted a Facebook status today about it – he said even though it’s been 21 years, he still misses you more every day. I can’t imagine losing one of my parents, and so I can’t imagine how he feels. All I know is that I miss you. I cried when I read his status. I cried for a lot of reasons. I cried because I didn’t even know it was your birthday. You passed away when I was five, I was lucky if I knew my own birthday. I cried because I wish you were here. We could celebrate your birthday together. Dad says you loved to cook, maybe you could have made us something special – or maybe I could have made you something you taught me. I cried because, as I read my dad’s status and all the supportive responses he got to it, I knew you’d never read it. I cried because some of my earliest memories are at your house, before my brother was born. My parents were both in the kitchen with Papa, but you were in the living room with me. You could have left me by myself to play – I was an independent and imaginative child, I wouldn’t have made a fuss – but you preferred playing nurse to my doctor while I healed ailing stuffed animals to chatting with grown-ups. I’ll never forget that and the older I get, the more I appreciate that memory.
I know you lost a son when he was only 15, and I can’t imagine how that affected you. I can’t imagine what that’s like. I’m so glad you got to see my father grow up into the man he became. I’m sorry you had to see him go through hard times, but I’m glad you were around to see him grow out of them. I’m glad you met my mother and embraced her as part of your family. I’m glad you got to see my dad not just as your son, but as my father.
I just wish you could see him now. When I was young, he was the best dad a little girl could ask for. He would walk me down to your house to visit, and long after you were gone he would wake me to visit Papa Leo. He still tells me stories about you to this day, and he always tells me about how much you loved me. But he only got better as I got older. I don’t know if you’ve been watching, but I have to tell you…Grammie, I was not an easy teenager to deal with. I was moody to say the least. There was a lot of yelling and even more crying – and my dad was my rock through it all. You would have been so proud. I hope you are so proud.
I also hope you’d be proud of me. I used to worry about what you would think about me now. But seeing how proud my Papa Gino is of me now, I know you would have been proud of me, too. I know you would read everything I wrote, even if you didn’t understand it, just like he does. I honestly don’t know. I wish I could know you now, now that I’m grown and could fully appreciate you. But I also wish you could know me now, now that I’M grown. I feel like, in my five short years with you, we really had a connection, and I just wish we could talk one more time.
Happy birthday, and give Papa Leo my love. I miss you both.