Dear Dad,

I can’t believe it’s been a year that you’ve been gone. A year of not hearing your voice, not chatting about random stuff, not telling you of the latest things my boys have done.

It all happened so fast, one moment you and I were chatting and laughing on the phone, and a mere hour later mom was calling to say she couldn’t wake you up. Could I have done something had I been there? It’s a question that will forever haunt me. I might have saved your life and kept me from living the rest of mine without your gentle guidance and your paternal love.

You would be so proud of the boys – I know you always were, but they are doing so well, dad. Alex is moving onto kindergarten, yes, special needs kinder, but still, it means his academics are moving along. He is a chatterbox, sings and plays all day long. Aidan rocked kinder, of course, you knew he would, and now he’s going into first grade ready to learn even more. He’s into Godzilla now, that’s his world. He’s so much fun.

I wonder what you would have thought of the recent Peruvian elections. My guess is your dislike of the Fujimori regime would have forced you to side with Humala. We had the same world view, you and I, the same pragmatism that didn’t prevent us from dreaming and reaching high. I am sorry your business goals were not realized. I am sorry you worked for that stupid bitch until you died. I am sorry there was so much physical pain. I am sorry your last years were not more peaceful.

I am doing well. I am happy with my life, my marriage, my family. My veggie garden is doing great, I am so happy you were able to see it last year and that you got to taste some of the food I grew.

Thank you for always encouraging me, for always being proud of what I did, for always trying to be happy despite everything that was going on in your life. That is the biggest lesson I am taking from you, dad, to BE a happy person, to treat crap that happens as peripheral and not let it define me or damage my spirit.

You were so loved, dad, you should have seen how many people came to see you at the hospital, how many were at the church at your service, how many reached out to me and told me what a nice man you were. You made friends everywhere you went and I am sure those friends miss you and think of you fondly.

I am thankful I had you in my life as long as I did, I know not many people are as lucky to have their parents around until their late thirties. I am going to be forty this year. I hope you are proud of me. I always take a little extra care with my appearance because I know you didn’t like me to be a “frumpy mom”. You certainly were never less than supremely well dressed. I love how you’d always show up for breakfast in a full suit, handkerchief in your pocket, smelling of some fancy fragrance. You lived your life to the full, you didn’t save the good perfume for some occasion or the good jacket for dinner out. You wore your best every day, and that inspires me as I try not to wear tee-shirt and sweatpants every day.

You believed in God fully, yet were surprisingly (given your age and background) open minded. You thought gay marriage should be as much as right as regular old marriage. Guess what, dad, another state is for it now, I know you would be happy, too. I don’t have faith the way you did. My beliefs are of a different afterlife, and while I don’t believe in heaven and hell – you and I agreed that you pay for the bad stuff you do right here on earth – I do believe our spirits never die. And some day, our spirits will be together again.

Can you imagine, dad? Hanging out over some good Peruvian coffee and freshly baked French bread? Because I’m not having no nasty watered-down coffee in my afterlife. We’ll hug and I’m sure you’ll have a pristine handkerchief in your suit pocket. I’ll tell you all about the boys and my husband, you’ll tell me you’ve been watching over them and me all along. I’m sure you’ll have some new book you’re into, and in my afterlife, you’ll read my books in English with no problem at all.

Until then, daddy, I love you so much. Every morning I still think that I can call you to chat before you go to work, and every evening I think “oh, he’s probably home from work, I should give him a call.” I hope I never stop thinking that. Thank you for being my boys’ loving grandpa, and most of all, thank you so much for being my dad.

All my love always.

Claudia