Dear Dad: A Letter To My Hero I Lost To Substance Abuse

Subject: Dear Dad: A Letter To My Hero I Lost To Substance Abuse
From: Your Daughter
Date: 17 Nov 2015

Dear Dad,

Unlike most letters, this one lacks a destination. It seems to have gotten lost somewhere in between the tall bud light in your left hand and the bottle of grey goose in your right. So I’ll write it in hopes that one day I do find out where I should send it. I hope you’re not as bothered by all of this as I am. I wouldn’t wish an ache like this on my worst enemy.

If I’m in a quiet space and close my eyes tight enough, I can almost remember the overjoyed, filled with eagerness attitude I had upon your arrival. Saturdays were my favorite day of the week. I suppose that Saturday is a lot of people’s favorite day of the week but I have a unique reason for it. Saturday is the one day of the week I get to dedicate to having fun with my best friend, Dad. It was always “we can do whatever you want to do” and the occasional “which I’m sure is going to start off by going to eat somewhere”. You laugh and I laugh with you. Wherever we go, I can’t help but feel this overwhelming sense of pride with you speak. Your thick Bulgarian accent has everyone curious as to where we are from. I can’t help but chime in sometimes. "He knows 6 languages you know” or “he has his PhD in organic chemistry”. You don’t regard these major accomplishments as much but it’s safe to say I take enough pride in them for the both of us. I enjoy boasting about the wonderful relationship I have with you despite the divorce between you and mom. I feel lucky. As you teach me how to fish, tutor me in basic chemistry, and provide constant love and support, I am aspiring to be more like you with every Saturday we spend together.

I may be a teenager now but I still rarely miss a Saturday with you. Our conversations have changed a bit from when I was younger. You may be my best friend but you’re still my awkward dad when you ask me if I’m dating someone. I don’t mind the awkward though because it makes me laugh. It’s really easy to be best friends with your dad when he is so awesome.

Saturdays are a little different lately. I’m sorry you lost your job Dad. I can’t imagine how a company would ever opt out of losing the most intelligent and compassionate man in the world. You seem quiet and somewhat withdrawn. Instead of eating with me, you’ve been drinking alone. I guess it’s not that weird. After all, it is Saturday.

I’m starting to worry a little because you've been sick lately. I was sad that you couldn’t make my prom pictures last minute because you weren't feeling well. It seems that things like that have been happening a lot lately. I was really hoping to introduce you to my date but I mostly wanted to show you off to everyone else there.

It’s may 17th and you didn’t answer his phone this Saturday. That is incredibly unlike you.
I can’t imagine what else you would be doing. Saturday has been our day for 17 years now.

You didn’t answer your doorbell. And your car is here. Maybe you went for a drive to clear your head. Or maybe you went to the grocery store. Your car could also be in the shop. You’re always having work done it to make sure it works perfectly. Now that I think about it, that’s definitely where you are. I feel a lot less worrisome.

So I’ll just wait until your back.

But it's getting darker and darker.

Well dad if you were wondering I dread Saturdays now. And I spend every Sunday through Friday wishing I knew where you were and why you left me. I spent the months after you were gone checking my phone solely with the hopes of you calling to tell me you made a mistake. I spend every day avoiding places and things that remind me of you. I avoid talking about my childhood because in my eyes you made up most of it. When people ask who my hero is, I try to push away the immediate association of that word and you. I talk about you in the past tense because it makes it easier to pretend. It’s easier to pretend that you’re gone completely then to curse myself for not being a daughter that made you want to stick around.

Despite a prolonging feeling of emptiness, I have used our situation as a learning experience. For that, I thank you. I came to understand the power that alcohol and drugs can have over someone. I watched it completely alter the mind of the person I once idolized. I want to work with individuals who have substance abuse issues because I was not able to help my father. I want to fill the void for other families before it’s too late. I want to fix this grueling issue so that other families can live happily as well as better understand how difficult addiction can be. Until then, in my mind, I’ll be waiting for you on the front steps of your apartment.
I love you Dad.

Your daughter always,