My Dearest Lulu,
It has now been fourteen years since you left us. It has taken me this long, and for all the wrong reason, to write to you. I didn’t want to cry. I didn’t want to think myself crazy for doing this. I have tried to focus my mind on other things….anything…other than not having you with us.
I wish I could tell you that we all are doing well since your departure. I guess all I can say is that we are doing better than we expected to. It was tough in the beginning. Then, it gradually got worse and worse until we finally were able to cope with what happened. You see, it wasn’t just your leaving, but all the circumstances leading up to that and the fall-out afterward.
Your mother is doing much better. I have to say that after you left, she was quite lost. Her entire life revolved around you and your care for almost seventeen years. It goes by quickly when you say it, but many was the time I didn’t think your suffering would ever end. Now, you’ve been gone almost as long as you were alive, and I find that so hard to believe. It took your mom almost ten years to get close to her old self again. For a long time, I didn’t think we were going to stay married. We both suffered in our own way and grew apart, drew apart, but somehow landed (awkwardly) on our feet.
I suppose your sister got the worst of it. She loved you so much and I can still see her crying over the loss on that night. Your mother and I thought we were doing a good job with her, but we failed miserably in many ways. It wasn’t her fault, but ours for being so weak. But, you will be happy to know she is in college now and doing well, making good grades. She has a boyfriend, and they have been seeing each other for more than a year now. Unfortunately, she is more like me than her mother.
As for me, I thought I might be coming to see you a little more than two years ago. My heart was very sick and had to be fixed. The sands in my hourglass are few, now…and I smile when I think about seeing you again. It will be wonderful to see you free from the wheelchair and happy at being sound in both mind and body. How I always wanted that for you. There were times when you saw me cry, and many more when I wouldn’t let you. One of the worst times for me was when your mother told me that you had said you wished you could walk. Of all the things you could have asked for that I could have provided, that was the one thing I could not do. It was too much to bear at the time. It will be a great joy for me to see you run and walk.
I know you will tell me to think differently, but I still feel so guilty for not being a better father to you. When you were born, I wanted you to die. At times, when your body would shut down in the hospital…and it happened so often…and the doctors and nurses would rush in to save you, I actually prayed that God would let you die. But, they always brought you back and each time you seemed to get stronger. I have never seen a more powerful will to survive than what you had. Your grandmother used to lecture me about disciplining you, but I wouldn’t listen. I wish I had, now. Each moment I can recall where I would put you in your room or get angry at you for certain things it makes me sad. It had nothing to do with you. It was my selfishness and self-pity that allowed me to sometimes lash out at you. Then, in the end, when I saw you dying…I knew I had been wrong.
I guess I want to tell you how much you meant to me. In hindsight, you were the best thing that ever happened to me. I got the chance to see what a truly innocent heart looked like. I got to see what real, unconditional love was. When I would come in after a hard day’s work out in this wicked, wicked world, it was a comfort to be in your presence of purity and love. You deserved much better than me. And I truly didn’t deserve to be your dad. I hope God does not give me a pass when it comes to how I performed as your parent.
I’m sorry I couldn’t do more for you, and I’m sorry I didn’t when I could have. I’m sorry for those last few days when I wasn’t strong enough to go into the room and be with you during your final hours. I’m sorry you had to get your mother to come and summon me, even though you made me promise I wouldn’t cry. Those last few moments with you were the best…and the worst…of my life. For all during those seventeen years I slowly came to a place in my life where you were a real part of me. And that losing you would mean that part would die. I always thought it ironic. Most parents, when they have a child, want that child to live. It took me a long time for me to not want you to go. I am taking care of your mother, just as you asked me to. Even when she didn’t want me to…I haven’t forgotten my promise to you. How I miss you. Just remember, it won’t be long now. Soon, we will be with you and this heartache will be over. Until then, know I love you very much. I still cry over you from time to time. But, I also remember the good times and when we were happiest. Don’t worry about us. We are okay. At least we know you are no longer in pain…you are no longer sick…and that you are safe. I love you.