Advice for a Writer Who Lost Her Dad

My dad died forty-six years ago tomorrow. I still hate April Fool's Day, the day when I was thirteen and I listened to doctors say that they'd gotten all the cancer, that he was going to be fine. Even then, I knew it wasn't a joke. I knew they didn't say anything with the intention of scarring me.

But it was a great and awful cosmic joke that I seem to have spent the rest of my life trying to understand.

These days, it doesn't hurt as bad. The anniversary sickness of April Fool's Day isn't as debilitating. But it's embarrassing when people ask me how long ago he died because I stand in front of them with tears in my eyes and I have to tell them the number in decades. See, I remember. It was a day around which my entire life spun until it aimed a completely different direction than the day before. I will always think of those doctors on April Fool's Day.

But I write about my dad and that helps. Every time I think I might forget him, I write some story about him, like the time he blew up the stump in the back yard with dynamite or how he climbed higher in Old Sprawly than anyone ever had to hide a foil-covered Easter egg and when I found it in July, I ate that crunchy thing without hesitation. By now, I have a binder full of stories about my dad. I admit that I also talk to him and sometimes yell at him, at least when no one's looking. And that helps too.

It might feel better sooner if you keep writing about your dad until you're done. And yes, there will be times when it sneaks up on you anyway, even forty-six years later. You shouldn't have to apologize to anyone for having tears in your eyes over losing your dad even if he died decades ago. Dads are complicated.

I'm sorry for your loss. Take your time to grieve.

Thank you for listening, jules