Montreal #3: 10 years

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It is 10 years to the day that my dad stopped breathing in the middle of the night and died. He was 47; I was 14. I’ve written many words about this day and him and deleted most of them, not just because it is hard to write, but because there is so much to say.

He was an incredible man: an engineer, an artist, a writer, a reader, a soccer player, a community advocate, an amazing cook, a perfectionist, a skeptic, a goofball, a Seinfeld addict, a brother, a son, a husband and a father.

I can’t do all of who he was justice or explain all of how I am feeling 10 years later. I do know that his death clarified not just the certainty of death, but the randomness of it. It’s not fair, but it’s how it is, and it’s not a question of if, but when. Life is short and uncertain and don’t take it for granted and tell the people you love that you love them and every other cliche out there.

I want to say more, but I can’t right now so I’ll leave it at that. I’m very glad to have had him as my dad, and to be in the city that he grew up in and loved on this day.

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10 comments

  1. Thank you for sharing. Part of his legacy is in your words.

    1. Thank you–that means a lot.

  2. Carla Bourassa-Jackms · · Reply

    Thanks for sharing. My daughter, Julie, was 16 and her dad was 44 when he died. We share your pain. I believe its so good to put how you are feeling from pen to paper. I wish you continued success!

    1. Thank you, Carla. All the best to you and your family too.

  3. Maureen Ogle · · Reply

    Oh my goodness. I’m trying and failing to imagine. I was 35 when my dad died and I thought I was “too young” then. But in your case, this is obviously an experience that shapes who you are for the rest of your life. So today: thinking of you, Heather. Hope to see you next week.

    1. Thank you, Maureen. It really did shape me in a lot of ways, many of which I think I’m just now realizing. Thirty-five is still too young, and I’m sorry for your loss. See you this week for sure.

  4. Beautiful thoughts, Heather.

    I don’t mean to blindly plug my own work, but I lost my dad back in August, and all I could do was write about it.My father was the greatest man I ever knew, and I still haven’t processed what losing him really means.Writing about our losses is important, I think,

    I tried to process it anyway: https://www.tinhouse.com/blog/31166/hey-chief.html

    1. Thank you for sharing this, Oliver. I struggled for a while over what I should write and if I should publish it. I was listening to the Longform Podcast interview with Ariel Levy, who wrote about the death of her son and it really pushed me to not just write it, but to share. (That part starts at 40:30 if you’re interested.) I am beginning to realize how essential writing about our realities and losses is, and I am so sorry for yours.

      1. You can’t hide from your feelings when they’re on the page, and when you can’t hide from them, you can start to accept them. At least that’s how it seemed to work for me. I’m sorry for your loss, too. At least there’s some small solace in knowing we’re not alone in our grief.

  5. Jeanne worrick · · Reply

    I was in Florida when I heard your Dad had passed. I couldn’t have been more shocked. He was the last person in Grafton his age I would ever expect to die. His vitality, athleticism, zest for life, was amazing. I missed his funeral, because I didn’t get back in time, but I just couldn’t believe he was gone. You and Jeff were the exact ages of my kids and Mike had played soccer with Jerry for years. I can’t imagine how you coped as a family, but you did…and seemed to be stronger for it. Great piece, Heather, thank you.

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