Art and Love from Me to You

dear dad

For Christmas in 1985, I bought my dad a blue sweatshirt that said “Best Dad on Earth.”  He opened the package that morning slowly, looking unthinkably weak and much too thin and pale.  “Thank you, honey.  I guess I can’t get any better than that.”  And he smiled.

It was the first thing I had heard him say in weeks.  It was the last thing I heard him say.  He never wore the sweatshirt.  He died two days later.

I remember the sound of the machine flat lining when the paramedics were in our living room. I remember the sound of the zipper going up the bag they put him in.  I remember listening to the truck pulling out of the driveway, carrying my dad’s lifeless body away.

My catastrophic teenage mind couldn’t see how we could live without him.  I decided there wasn’t a God.  How could there be one that could let this happen?  I dipped deeper into worry, fear, isolation, depression, anger and disbelief.

Then one night I had a dream.  I walked out into the hallway and there was my dad.  I was so happy to see him!  He looked healthy and strong and happy.  He told me he was doing great and that I could move on now.  He told me he was with me still, even though I couldn’t see him.  He told me that everything was okay, just as it was.

When I woke up the next morning, the heavy weight crushing my heart was lifted.  I knew with absolute certainty that he was still around, just in a different form.  It suddenly seemed like everything was okay and I was allowed to be happy again.  It would take me several years to actually act on this knowingly, but the stage was set; the healing had begun.

Many of you know I am doing a project called A Hundred Thank Yous.  I am making 100 paintings for 100 people I adore.  I will have an exhibition and then will happily give them all away.  I got to thinking about how my dad would have been one of the first people on my list.

So I am dedicating this project to him.

Dear Dad,

Thank you for lighting up whenever I walked into the room.

Thank you for listening to me when I talked, for looking at me in that moment as if nothing else mattered.

Thank you for having a calm reaction to my terrible teenage meltdowns, for accepting me and loving me through that awful stage in my development.

Thank you for letting me paint my room purple when I was obsessed with Donny Osmond.

Thank you for not flipping out when I took the car out for a spin with my girlfriends before I had my license.

Thank you for your sweetness, for your cheerful disposition in the morning, for making me laugh so often, for bringing light heartedness and joy to our house.

Thank you for the day when I was in middle school and you went downstairs to get your camera because you said I looked so pretty.

Thank you for wanting us to wave in pictures- it was so silly and funny and now the pictures make me laugh.

Thank you for protecting me from seeing violent and scary movies.

Thank you for being a consistent, stable and safe presence in my life.

Thank you for taking us on a beautiful vacation to Lancaster County right before you got sick.

Most of all, thank you for creating a relationship with me where I knew, without any doubt, that I was truly loved beyond measure.

Hugs and kisses,

Lori

{ 18 comments… add one }
  • Lisa September 28, 2011

    Tears and gratitude and love. It all ends in love. And probably all comes from love. Thanks , Friend. This is so sweet. Oh, he knows.

  • Elloa September 28, 2011

    Thank you Lori for your candid, open, honest, raw vulnerability. I am utterly moved. xx

  • Jules September 28, 2011

    Such a moving post and incredibly beautiful. thank you for being so open. xxx

  • Alia September 28, 2011

    Dearest Lori, words cannot describe the feeling I have in my heart right now. Thank you for sharing from your heart and soul. You are Love. xo

  • The new girl September 29, 2011

    Oh, my HEART. Lor. My heart.

  • Amanda September 29, 2011

    I love you so much Lori, tears streaming down my face, wishing I could hug you. He sees you & he is so damn proud of you. <3

  • kolleen September 29, 2011

    tears, goosebumps, heart full.

    you, my friend are so treasured and such a gift to all of us who know you.

    i want to say “thank you” to your dad for YOU …
    for raising such a beautiful, aware, grateful, authentic soul.

    and i want to say thank you to you…for being you and showing so many how to move on from pain and show gratitude to all around them.

    loving you GIANT
    ox
    k

  • Jay September 29, 2011

    Read your story again while sitting at the airport waiting to come home. Cried again. So grateful we found each other. So proud of what you do.

  • kara rane September 30, 2011

    Hi Lori*
    just got here for the 1st time via K.O.M.
    completely in agreement//alignment with your mission…i too hope to bring happiness & Peace through my art. This is our highest work. I love your idea for your new project.
    Thank YOU for sharing your tender story, you have so much to offer.
    much kindness~

  • aimee September 30, 2011

    I didn’t know you lost your dad at such a young age, Lori. I admire so much how you were able to transform your grief into a feeling of comfort and guidance to carry along with you. It shines through in your artwork. You are such an inspiration. xo

  • Jean September 30, 2011

    Beautiful message.

  • Andi September 30, 2011

    Lori –
    Thank you for this post; it’s absolutely beautiful and I’m excited to see your paintings. Your dad would be so proud of the woman you’ve become today – his influence on your life is so obvious and real!

    Love, love, love – Andi

  • bonitarose September 30, 2011

    Lori…. oh your dad knows.. he sure does… what a beautiful post.. the tears are still streaming down my face. Hugs. I never lost my dad physically, but i hv lost him since he disowned me almost 10 years ago now. Long story. And now my ex is treating my oldest daughter so horribly right now.. she just turned 18.. and he is still choosing to treat her like a child. She tells me she feels like a caged bird.. she is so unhappy. as a noncustodial mom.. I do my best to make her days better.. ohhh if we all could have fathers like u.. hugs xo thks for sharing this with all of us. It matters. It matters.

  • Jennifer Richardson October 1, 2011

    I practically stopped breathing as I read,
    my heart had to stop for just a bit to wrap
    around the massive beauty
    of your words
    and hold them close,
    spirit to spirit.
    And now I’m richer
    and life is clearer
    and sweeter.
    Thanks for sharing your precious dad
    ….I feel fathered and blessed.
    -Jennifer

  • jacqueline October 1, 2011

    Dearest sweet lori, such a beautiful tribute and an inspiring post. Im crying as im writing this message to you. It made me think of my papa and how awesome he is. I have lost love and dear ones and it took a long time for me to heal. I know your papa would be so proud of you and very happy! I love your project and i can’t wait to see it. So very inspiring! You are amazing! Have a lovely merry happy weekend and love to you!

  • jody October 2, 2011

    This reminds me of my Dad.He would be 80 years old on Oct 6th.I miss him so much.THank you for a beautiful poem

  • Oh Lori…sendin you a hug my friend. XOXO.

  • Susie May 10, 2012

    is it too late to comment on this since it was like a hundred years ago?
    you are astonishing.
    I love that he got the camera that day in middle school. and of course, that you remember it. reminds me that every interaction has the potential for lasting good.
    wow.

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