Things you missed (An open letter to the father who left too soon and made peace too late, written a year after his death) – Originally published 22 May 2015

There are so many things you should have seen and experienced. And for so many reasons, you missed them. So here they are (not that you can read any more or ever even knew that I had a blog, but hey-ho).

You never saw me go to university and put all those things you used to teach me in the veld to use as foundation for my studies.
You never got to see me work out that my original major choice didn’t work for me, exactly or see me throw myself into Biology, because I loved it.
You never got to stand by me when I realised I wouldn’t be able to complete my course due to financial constraints and would have to find a full-time job and you never got to see the disappointment on lecturers faces when they found out later that I’d given up my studies for survival, because I’d actually made an impression. And you’ll never see me graduate next year.
You never saw me find a job and leave home and strike out on my own. I took to it quite well and because you raised a curious and practical daughter, I didn’t stop learning and adapting. And you never saw me leave that job for a better one and learn new skills.
You didn’t see me build a home, my way. You never met my first pet, who made it a home and gave me solace when things didn’t go the way I had hoped.
You never got to see me change from an independent, confident teenager to a timid, cowed young woman as the result of a bad relationship. And you never got to see me pull myself together and fight back and reclaim my life. You never got to see me walk away from what was bad for me. And you never got to see me grow into a strong, wilful, independent woman who is a full partner to a good man.
You never saw me dance. And I was good, very good. And you really should have seen me. You never got to see me fight to get to the point where I could say that and you never saw me blossom as a result.
You never got to see my engagement ring or walk me down the aisle or see me smile at the man who chose to build a life with me. Worse, you never got to know him. And that is a terrible loss for you.
You never got to meet my second cat or my first dog. You never got to see my family grow from just me to a husband and wife, two cats and a dog. You never got to see me do things right. You never got to see me build a home with a family and values and a solid foundation. You never got to see me smile sincerely as an adult and you never got to see me laugh at all, sincerely or not.
You never got to hear me say I’m pregnant for the first time. And you never got to comfort me a month later when my entire world collapsed in the space of 30 seconds.And you never got to see my tentative joy at the second positive pregnancy test. You never got to see my baby’s heartbeat on a sonar photo or try to figure out what all the various statistics meant. You never got a call telling you that she’s a girl and doing well or photo updates in your inbox. You’ll never get to hold your grandchild or know her name. You’ll never show her why it’s called Rooikrans or explain to her how her eyes work or rattle off Latin names for everything as you walk together.
Worst of all, you never got to make things right. We both missed that. But I learned from you and our little girl will never walk alone. The man you never got to meet is the type of man I wish you were, or that I wish you had stayed and he is becoming the father you should have remained.
And I wish you were here to see it.

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