I am nostalgic. I love getting together with childhood friends and reminiscing about the past, laughing at old memories and cherishing every bit of it. When a new day dawns, Facebook Memories loves to pop up displaying the posts of the past. Living in a digital world, it is so easy to leave little posts here and there, a text message to close friends. Our memories are simply digital now and live on without much trouble.
When my oldest was first just a positive pregnancy test, I created a blog just for her. I documented cravings, pregnancy symptoms, words of encouragement and love. Once she was born I continued the blog, using it as a baby book as I documented first solids, first teeth, and first steps. I continued writing her letters on the personal blog that someday she may read.
Until I came across a handwritten note from my dad.
My dad passed away exactly one week before my 24th birthday. He saw me graduate high school and college. He walked me down the aisle. He saw me fail, accomplish goals, and grow. He saw so many things in my life, but yet has missed so much more over the last nine years. He has missed the birth of his two granddaughters, conversations, and making new memories with those who love him. My dad was my coach, my biggest cheerleader, and my personal motivational speaker. Before (and after) basketball and softball games, we would discuss the game, what I did well, what I didn’t do well, and the conversation always finished with “Always give 150%.” To which I usually rolled my eyes.
Sixteen, seventeen, and eighteen-year-old me had so many life lesson conversations with my dad. Some conversations I did not want to hear at that particular time and some conversations that have stuck with me over the years. But, my biggest wish now? To have one more conversation, to ask more questions and the opportunity to learn more from him. Lately, I think about him often, wondering what he would think of me now. Would he be proud? What would his motivational speech be today? What would our relationship look like now?
I found exactly what I needed in that one handwritten note.
This note was written so many years ago, about a girl that was in junior high struggling to know who she was, how to do her curly hair, figuring out periods and boys. But, as parents often do, he saw things in me that I would have never seen. He saw a young girl with years ahead of her, a girl with tenacity and a girl with a love for life and concern for others. A wave of relief washed over me after reading this note because I know he would still be my biggest cheerleader and supporter. I know that he would love my girls with all of his heart, just as he did for me.
I don’t remember him ever saying the phrase, “Stay special,” but as a woman in her thirties, with two young girls, in a world where everyone wants a perfectly filtered Instagram account, I want us to stay special. Love life. And love each other. He knew what exactly what I needed to hear from him and I am so thankful for having this personally penned letter to cherish for years to come.
From this one handwritten note, nostalgia rushes over me. His unique caps mixed with lowercase always stood out to me. Every time I look at this letter, I get transformed back to that time and just imagine him sitting down to write it. It makes me feel close to him even though I haven’t see him in almost a decade. To keep his memory alive, I had a cuff bracelet made with his handwriting. It is a personal memento of a man I miss so deeply that I will get to pass down to my girls.
After finding this note, I ditched the blog. I bought a children’s book titled Someday by Alison McGhee for both girls and have started leaving them handwritten notes inside. I have plans to give them their book someday in the future, whether it be their wedding day or at the birth of a baby, or possibly after I leave this world. I want them to know how much I love them, what I see in them, and what I hope for them with my handwriting.