"Dear D"

I sat down and wrote D a letter and gave it to him today. I cried while writing it, naturally, but it was totally worth it. After reading it, D's eyes shone with tears and he said, "This means more to me than you know." I asked if I could give him a hug, and we had our first real hug. He is so thin and fragile that I was a little hesitant, but it was okay. I'm really glad that I went about it this way... and C read it too and cried. She said it was beautiful. J is going to read it tonight.

Here's the letter. (Comp dying, no time for commentary.)

Dear D,

As I’m sure you know, my reasons for coming back to K didn’t involve the breathtaking scenery, nor the forgotten joys of a snowy day. Nope, I came back to see you!

Honestly, I was really saddened when I found out that you won’t be able to attend my wedding. It’s not that I don’t understand, because I totally do, but I had been looking forward to having you there because you have become an important part of my life.

This is the part where I get sappy.

We’ve been rather circumspect when it comes to any emotions or attachment to each other, as evidenced by our awkward side hugs on momentous occasions... but I feel that it is important, for me at least, to be honest and forthright in what you’ve come to mean to me and what a significant role you’ve played in my life. I feel that I may not get another chance, and I want to say it while I can. That’s also the reason I came up here. I know that tomorrow is not guaranteed to any of us, and for all we know I could pass away before you ever do, but it’s fairly obvious that the cancer is taking a big toll on you... and since you’re not coming to the wedding, I was afraid that I’d never get to see you again.

As you know, I haven’t exactly had a wealth of positive male role models in my life. With the exception of my grampa, every male that was supposed to have a significant guiding influence in my life either abandoned or abused me, sometimes both. (And you remember that whole fiasco with B...) I didn’t know what it meant to have a father (though now I have R).

But when I came to live with you guys, I watched you interact with your girls and your wife... and I began to see what a man truly should be. I began to understand what I needed to look for in a husband some day, and I even began to understand the imagery of God as our “father” a little. That one had always been lost on me. 

I have a list of 3 men in my life that I can truly hold up as examples of what a man should be like, what a father should be like... and you’re pretty much tops on that list. I am not sure if you sensed this or not, but I came to see you as my own dad, in a way. Granted, I haven’t been around that long, but... I felt like you took me under your wing as I worked with you in the garden and at Farmer’s Market, and honestly it was really strange for me to figure out how to relate to an older man in a safe way but I always knew that you were a totally safe person and I could trust you, right from the beginning.

I know the girls and C are struggling with the thought of losing you, but I am too. I’m going to miss you so much... I already do, because I’ve moved away, but... this is different. I feel like I just started getting to know you, and I wish that we’d had more time. I look up to you so much, and I so admire the way that you relate to your family. I see the same kind of “family man” characteristics in C, and it gives me peace of mind. I know I’ve said before that it was you and C that showed me that a happy marriage can and does exist, and it’s that example that I’m clinging to as I rock on the seas of fear. Even now, in such a trying time, you guys are still in love, still faithful... and even when you’re so sick and feeling so poorly, I can still see the love that you lavish on your family. It really just brings me to my knees, and I’m so grateful to have known you and to have had that example that I can look back on.

D, I love you like a father. I consider you to be one of my parents, which is why I’m so sad that you won’t be at my wedding. I really wanted to share that with you, but... it’s really the marriage that’s so important, not the wedding day, and you’ve helped prepare me for that and give me a solid foundation, so it’s okay. That’s the greatest wedding gift I could ever ask for.

I hope that you consider me to be one of your daughters, and I also hope that you know that, despite the short time that I was with you guys, you changed my life irrevocably. You set the hope of something better in my heart in so many ways-- familialy, relationally, spiritually, and, yes, agriculturally :) I can no longer settle for less, thanks to you. And you definitely awakened the spirit of the gardener within me. Rest easy knowing that your legacy will live on in my raised strawberry beds. (Okay, I’m teasing you now, but seriously-- I learned so much here and my passion for gardening was cultivated, no pun intended.)

I love you, and I’m going to miss you so very much. I have and will continue to shed tears, but I can also smile because you have so richly blessed me and I have a storehouse of precious memories to comfort myself with.

Love sincerely,
your daughter,

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