An Afternoon on the Lawn Swing with my Father

I thought that this day would never come…I dreamed about it, prayed that one day you would just saunter through the door to tell me that it had all been a horrible and cruel mistake.  That you weren’t really dead and that you’d follow up with one of your fanciful stories that would help me to make sense of it all.

But you never did.

This afternoon with you is a gift, a dream.

You were taken from me before I could form memories of you…your laugh, your smile, the way you owned a room simply by walking into it, the scent of your hug, the way your love felt.

When I was ten, I longed for a single afternoon with you, to see the same clear blue eyes and golden hair that I saw when I looked in the mirror.  I longed to have you hold my hand and tell me that I was your sweet girl.  I stared at your weathered photograph so often that your face was more familiar to me than my own.

When I was twenty, I ached for you so badly.  I wanted to know what you thought, I wanted to hear about your thoughts about life.  By that time, I had been told that I carried with me your sense of humor, your laugh, and a touch of your rebellious nature.  I longed to identify with you and know that you were a part of me.  I would have given anything for you to encourage me to take risks and explore my options in life.

When I was thirty, I wished that you were here to tell me that you were proud of me and the things that I had accomplished.  I had outlived you by then, which was unfathomable.  You had always been older in my mind, but as my twenties slipped through my fingers, I came to realize that I had spent more days on this earth than you had.  No longer were you older, wiser.  Slowly, you became young…a man who hadn’t yet gathered all of the knowledge and experience that he needed.  You were impulsive, a kid, really, when you died.  I hated that I had outlived you by half a decade by then.

And now, as I approach forty, I long for your companionship.  I wish that I could look in your aged eyes and know that I am grounded in you.  There is so much inside of me that I can’t see in anyone else…I wish that I could see myself in you so that I could understand myself better.  I wish that I could hear your Maine accent that I’m told was thick and true.  I wish that when my phone rang, I could wonder for just a single moment if it was you.

I thought that as I got older, I would achieve a degree of peacefulness over your absence in my life, but I’m finding that I’m needing you more and more. 

So, let’s sit on Grammy’s lawn swing and be still together.  Let me study you and just hear the sound of your voice. 

Let me hear you tell me that you love me.

Tell me about the dreams you held in your heart.  What did you want most from your life? Had you even gotten that far?  Or did you still believe that this world had infinite space and time for you?

Why did you take so many risks, tempting fate so often and so eagerly that it eventually caught up with you?  With me.

Did you love me?  The way that I love my children?  Did my toddler giggles delight you?  Did my cries make your chest tighten?  Did you feel that you couldn’t live without me on this earth?

You were barely in your twenties when you died.

Tell me that I’m all that you’d ever dreamed I’d be.  Tell me that you’re proud.

Tell me that you’re sorry…sorry for leaving me.  Sorry for letting me know what being fatherless feels like.

And when you’re done…hold my hand and let me have these hours with you by my side.  Let me just listen to you breathe…let me feel your warmth.

Let me know what it feels like to have a father.

Just for the afternoon.

Today’s post is in response to a Red Dress Club prompt that invited us to describe an afternoon spent with someone who had died.  Naturally, I chose my father, who was taken from me when I was just two.


  1. babybabylemon

    This is just beautiful. And I am in tears.

  2. Cheryl @ Mommypants

    I don't know what to say, other then I am so proud of you. And that I ache for you and your loss and the unfairness of all of it. And I ache for him that he didn't get to see what an amazing and beautiful woman you've become..

    Love you..

  3. kris

    I am here.

    But I can't comment at the moment.

    Love you so much, Nichole.


  4. Booyah's Momma

    Another beautiful post. You really have a way with words. I've no doubt your father would have been proud.

  5. I cried reading this.

    I miss my dad too.

    And I was 30.

    The anniversary is coming up. Part of why I don't like October.

  6. Megan-Best of Fates

    I don't think I've ever cried so hard reading a blog post.

    SO beautifully written and so heart-wrenching.

  7. The_BMG

    Beautiful and sad and amazing. I'm beyond words. Just. Amazed.

  8. @sogeshirts

    This is really heartwrenching and touching at the same time.

  9. SkyWaitress

    Incredible. I don't want to spoil the moment with words.

  10. Varda (Squashedmom)

    Oh, Nichole. I often write that a blog has moved me to tears or that I am tearing up, when there is just a bit of moistness in my eyes. But your blog today, this post? I had to take my glasses off & wipe them dry, I'm honking crying snot into my hankie.

    If you've been to my blog you know that I just lost my father this March. It was sad, but also OK because he was an old, old man and we had had a lifetime together. I can't imagine how hard it would be to have him only as a ghost and whisper in my life. I feel so deeply for you. My husband, who just lost his elderly mother this month, lost his father at 17, and that haunts him still – the never having his father see him grow into a man, the not being able to have an adult to adult relationship with him. But how many times more awful would it have been to lose him at 2.

    You write so movingly of all this. Thank you for that. For turning your pain into something beautiful, and for the sharing.

  11. Sarah

    This is beautiful, and so brave. You amaze me!

  12. PartlySunny

    That brings up so many emotions that I can’t even begin to comment. Thank you for sharing so much of your heart.

  13. Joni Rae

    Oh wow. I am sitting here crying my eyes out. I KNOW this. This is ME. My father died in 1982 -I was two, and he wasa twenty-five.

    I am thirty now, and a mother of four. I just wanted you to know that I think this is beautiful, and I truely and deeply understand.

    PS- I call my grandmother “Grammy” as well.


  14. Alexandra174

    It's so sad, isn't it?

    Losing a parent while you're young.

    My father died when I was in 1st grade…and I still have dreams of finding him and scolding him and yelling and shouting, "do you know how long we've been looking for you??"

    So sad.

  15. this was so touching. PartlySunny forwarded this to me because she knew this would hit me hard. I lost my dad when I was in my twenties, but not a day goes by (after almost 12 years now) that I don't wish I could have just one more conversation with him. thank you for sharing.

  16. As always you remind me to appreciate what I forever overlook. I roll my eyes at my dad. A lot. Because he’s crazy. But he’s there. I’m going to call him now.
    Can’t wait to read your novel.

  17. Kathy

    Nichole, your writings are so beautiful and so personal. I too have tears welling up and the insatiable urge to call my dad. Thank you so much for sharing your stories, feeling and writings..

  18. Kmama

    Oh wow. That was beautiful. I'm in tears. It must have been really unsettling when you realized that you are older than your father when he died…and that he was just a young man.

  19. Hope

    Excuse me, there appears to be something in my eye. Both eyes….

  20. So glad I found you in twitter land kind of by accident. I love the way you write and I love how personal and deep and true you are. It's like you step right down into my heart and pull the strings each time I read. Thank you for that. I don't have this experience and I'm sorry that you did, but you sure do make me open my eyes on things I am obliviously taking for granted.

  21. Krista

    Wow. Just wow.

    So touching and moving and I'm so sorry that you experienced that type of loss. I can't imagine the questions and pain there must have been as you grew up. Actually I can because of this post.

    You've got an amazing way with words.

  22. I just found you by accident from twitter! No words. So beautifully touching but yet so heartwrenchingly painful. I am truly sorry for your loss at such a sweet young age.

  23. It is way to early to cry this much! This is beautiful, as always. I am so sorry for the loss you have had to endure throughout your lifetime.

  24. Sherri

    I am so touched by this, and wishing I hadn't already put my eye makeup on for the day. Nichole, I can't imagine your pain and longing for this man who was so rudely ripped from your life at a tender age. It never occured to me how your thought would evolve as you got older, especially passing the age at which he died and being "older" than him. My heart send you a hug, my friend. This is lovely, touching, and so sad. I am glad you shared it, but I am sure it was hard to write.

    I work with some young kids at school when they lose a parent, and this evolution of your feelings about it brings a new perspective for me.

  25. Cate

    This is lovely. This is the part that really pulled at me:

    When I was thirty, I wished that you were here to tell me that you were proud of me and the things that I had accomplished. I had outlived you by then, which was unfathomable. You had always been older in my mind, but as my twenties slipped through my fingers, I came to realize that I had spent more days on this earth than you had. No longer were you older, wiser. Slowly, you became young…a man who hadn’t yet gathered all of the knowledge and experience that he needed. You were impulsive, a kid, really, when you died. I hated that I had outlived you by half a decade by then.

    You are very talented.

  26. Heartbreakingly beautiful.

  27. what a beautiful expression of longing for your father. i'm certain you are all he hoped for in a daughter and much, much more.

  28. Alex@LateEnough

    Thank you for sharing this beautiful… I don’t want to call it a post… A moment? A heartache?

    Well, just thank you.

  29. Mandy

    You are such a beautiful writer. This made me cry too.


  30. ksluiter

    I want to say something comforting.

    I want to tell you how lovely your words are.

    But my heart is aching.

    Love you.

  31. CDG

    So very beautiful and eloquent, Nichole.

    Thank you for sharing something so deep and true.

    As always.

  32. Nancy C

    Stunning. I'm sorry for this hole, and what it means. This, I imagine, speaks to so many.

  33. Nicole Q

    My goodness. You understand what you need so well. And it brought tears to my eyes.

  34. Peggy

    You are such a beautiful writer. I am so sorry that you feel such a missing part of your life. All that I can say is that he lives on in you, and that someday you will meet again. I'm sure he'll be waiting for you with all the answers.
    love you.

  35. Adelle

    I lost my mom too soon – this was very close to home for me! Stopping by from TRDC – so nice to find your lovely blog. I'm looking forward to reading more! (Your dad was a Mainer? So is my husband…I lived there three years, lots of adventures we've had Down East.)

  36. I hate Lori @ In Pursuit of Martha Points at this moment since she sent me to read this and now I'm crying at work. That was beautifully written. I cannot imagine not having my father in my life. I pray for him to be around a little longer so our girls who are 3 and 1 will remember him when he is gone. I'm so sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  37. 2old2tap

    I know nothing can fill that need for you. So I just send you my love.

  38. Natalie

    I wish I was there to hug you and tell you how beautiful this post is and how much it means that you shared it.

    This makes me want to go hug my dad, and it makes me sad that I know that you can't do that even though you'd give almost anything to.

    "just sit and be still"…those words took my breath away.

  39. Candice

    Wow. You really expressed your emotion perfectly. I felt your pain, I felt that it was me who was suffering from the loss of my father. You are so brave. My dad is one of my best friends. I cannot imagine what it would be like to be in your position. Thank you for sharing. Now I'll go get a tissue as I am crying.

  40. Miss_Scarlett99

    That was so touching. I can't imagine what it must have been like to lose your father so young.

  41. Christine Marie

    My God….that was beautiful. Honestly, purely beautiful.

  42. I lost my father when I was eight (he got sick with brain cancer when I was five) so your post really resonated with me. The search for a father is seemingly endless, but it is what ultimately led me to the heavenly Father's embrace. It was there that I found my peace. Shalom.

  43. Elizabeth Flora Ross

    How incredibly beautiful! And sad. As someone who has had a very special relationship with my father my whole life, I'm so sorry you never had the opportunity to experience that. What a terrible loss. But I'm sure he has come to know you very well. I believe that.

  44. Mrs.Mayhem

    This is amazing. Thank you for sharing.

  45. Wow. My heart is aching for you and your dad. Just beautiful.

  46. Kellie

    The emotions in this piece are so raw and so true. It couldn't have been written by anyone who hadn't experienced such a loss. I love the questions your heart begged for answers. wow…great piece.

  47. Mad Woman behind the Blog

    Yes, I join the ranks of your crying readers. And I'll be calling my Dad today and will let him talk about whatever he wants. Just to have whatever he has to offer.

    A Maine accent, a risk taker, oooh, I think I would have liked your dad too!

  48. kris

    Hey, you. Back again.

    This is a lovely post, but for me? Heartbreaking not only because of the wanting I hear in your words, but because of my own lack of wanting. I don't want another moment with my father, much less another day. Sigh.

    The world is not fair.

    I know that.

    But it still annoys me.


  49. Nichole

    Thank you, Amy.

  50. Nichole

    I know that you are there. Always.
    And for that, I am beyond grateful.
    Love you…so very much.

  51. Nichole

    I am so sorry, Lori.
    I've always wondered which is worse, losing a parent before knowing them, or once you have shared years with them, because options both are horrible.
    I'll be right here to hold your hand…just reach for it.
    Love you, my friend.

  52. Nichole

    Thank you, Megan…for reading and for commenting. That means the world to me.

  53. Nichole

    Thank you for reading and for sharing your kindness with me.

  54. Nichole

    Writing it was painful but happy, so I totally get that.
    Thank you so much.

  55. Nichole

    There's nothing more to say…coming by and letting me know that you read is what matters most.
    Thank you for that.

  56. Nichole

    Thank you, Abigail.

  57. Nichole

    I am so sorry for all that you've had to endure in your adult life. I will never understand why some people are dealt so much heartache.

    This comment that you left for me is an amazing gift. You put words to a feeling that I've struggled to explain; my father was merely "a ghost and whisper in my life." That is such a perfect way to explain it.
    Thank you so much for that…

  58. Nichole

    Thank you, Sarah.

  59. Nichole

    Thank you for reading…I can't tell you how much that means.

  60. Nichole

    I've never known anyone who knew just what I was feeling…
    I'd love to talk with you about it.

    Thank you for leaving me your kind words and for letting me know that there is someone else who knows all too well what this feels like.

  61. Nichole

    I remember thinking that his death wasn't real. That he had been kidnapped or ran away or some other fantasy that kept him alive. I used to imagine that he would just come back.

    I am so sorry that you had to go through something like that when you were so young. One of the hardest parts had to have been seeing what his death did to everyone around you while you were trying to make sense of it all.

    Yes, so incredibly sad.

  62. Nichole

    Just one conversation. I would be grateful for that.
    I can't imagine losing a parent in my twenties…your twenties are supposed to be carefree.
    I am so sorry that you understand what it's like to lose a father. So very sorry.
    Thank you for reading.

  63. Nichole

    I so love that this post made you call your dad. You have no idea how much.

  64. Nichole

    Thank you for reading, Kathy. I appreciate it beyond words.

  65. Nichole

    Thank you for your kind words!

  66. Nichole

    Thank you, sweet Meredith. You are a lovely friend.

  67. Nichole

    Mine too. Thank you so much for reading.

  68. Nichole

    That was the strangest feeling. I had always believed that he was old and wise, but when I got into my twenties and realized that I had none of life's answers, my perspective totally changed. He was really just a kid.

  69. Nichole

    I am so happy that you found me. Twitter is an amazing land, isn't it?
    Thank you for your kind words…I love when there's a connection. And if I opened your eyes even a tiny bit, then I am joyful beyond words.
    Thank you for visiting…

  70. Nichole

    Thank you, Krista.
    There's something therapeutic about writing it down and knowing that I've touched others in some way.
    I truly appreciate that you read and left me a comment.

  71. @elissapr

    I saw Cheryl (@mommy_pants) tweet about your post…and it directed me here. Your story is both emotional and heart-wrenching. I'm so sorry for your loss…but glad of the gift of writing that sprang from it. I will check back often…

  72. Tonya

    Beautiful and honest and haunting. I am so sorry that your father was taken from you too soon.

  73. […] cry: Nichole wrote an amazing, moving post about the father she never knew. Warning: if you have lost your father, this will probably make you […]

  74. Rusti

    *crying at my desk* sending you love.

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