When I was 8 years old I was able to write Santa a letter. I am sure I wrote him many times over the years, but for some reason this one got published. I cannot be for sure where it got printed, but my Sister found it many years back when going through some of my Dads things. I will never know if he cut it out or if Mom did. I will never know if it was because one of them thought I would make a great writer someday or if they just felt proud that their child “made the paper.” The letter speaks volumes and gave them many clues in so many ways about so many things but what I see when I read it every year, what I notice most is not that I did not request Barbie’s and baby carriages, but my absolute resolute belief that the “Big Man” himself was going to get this letter. (And also that I thought Santa was my friend.)
A few weeks ago I had a very unexpected reaction to something that should have been celebratory. Instead of celebrating happily, I cried most of the entire day. I cried even AFTER I tried to celebrate. It was so unexpected and out of left field one could say it almost sidelined me. I struggled so much with this reaction that I even spoke to my counselor about it. (Yes Life Coaches need help too.) After she explained to me the psychology of WHY I had this reaction, she then asked me to do something. She asked me to write a letter to my Mom. I have suggested to many of my own clients this assignment, but I am pretty stubborn so why on Earth would I think to do this myself? She suggested that I write a letter about all of the things that have changed since she passed. That seemed entirely too daunting, because, well it has been a lot. So instead I decided to write a different letter…here is my letter to Heaven. And since I believed Santa would get the letter my 8 year old self sent him, I also believe this will get to Heaven.
Dear Mom and Dad-
I believe that you are probably not “together” but that you two have finally made peace, at least that is what my heart would like. As both of you already know, this past year has been one of my most challenging yet and also the most rewarding. You know I have ventured out yet AGAIN on a new path. Looking back I think it has made perfect sense all of the things that I have tried or thought I wanted to do or be…but I am not sure I ever thanked you for supporting me through all of them. My current gig is wholly and completely due to you both being gone. I would not be who I am right now this minute, if you were both still on this Earth. Because of that, I am acutely aware that everything does and must happen for a reason.
I could write to you about a million things and in my head I already have and if you really are just on the other side, you already know what I will probably say. You may however not know this. I am so sorry if I ever made you feel less than. If I ever made you feel like you were not a good parent. If I ever disappointed you in my decisions or my actions. If I ever made you feel unappreciated. And I know I did.
I never knew until I became a bonus parent myself, how thankless the job really is. We have a 17 year old knocking on 18’s door who acts like we have cooties. He will tell you that is not true, but I am an “actions speaks louder than words” person. Yes, I remember when I was that age, quite well. I think parenting is the hardest job on the planet. It is most definitely the one that has the longest period of time before return on investment. I am profoundly struggling with this because every single time that I feel like he wishes we would disappear I feel a pain in my heart so deeply that it honestly feels like it was injured in some way. My first thought is “oh my God…did I make my parents feel this way?” Did I make them feel invisible or unappreciated?” I am positive I did, we all do as kids. I am struggling with this because every single time we sit down to dinner and he shoves his food down his throat so he can get up from the table as quickly as possible, a part of me inside is screaming please don’t take this time for granted. Please sit and talk to us. Please understand that this time with your parents goes by in the blink of an eye. Or was it just my time that went by that quickly? Please appreciate these moments because they will be gone very soon.
I would give anything in the world to be able to sit down at the dinner table with you both and tell you about my day. It kills me to feel like that is the last place he wants to be. It is like a little part of me dies inside. I can’t make him or anyone else understand the value of time. Right now his generation is mastering the art of wasting as much of it as possible staring at their phones instead of making connections or being connected. This has challenged me in ways I was not prepared for because at every single turn I am told, “it is a boy thing, it is a teenager thing, this is incredibly normal.” It may be. It may be 100% normal on whatever scale someone decided to call normal. However, knowing he is acting like every other 17 year old does absolutely nothing to bring my parents back to the table. In fact, it only magnifies that you are missing from it. Zooms in on that fact like it is under a microscope.
So, what I really wanted to say to you today is that I am sorry. I am sorry if you ever felt like your role as a parent was thankless. In so many ways it was. And I know that now. And I know that I cannot make someone appreciate me or time spent with me but if I could go back, I would sit longer…I would visit longer…I would share longer…I would show more appreciation. There is literally no me without you both. I did not get where I am today, without you both. I am who I am because of you both. I am sorry if I did not honor that enough when you were alive but I will make damn sure I honor that in your deaths.
The morning after my emergency surgery that solidified that I would never give birth to children on my own whether I wanted to or not, you grabbed my foot Dad and said, “I am sorry sis, but kids are not all they are cracked up to be.” I get it now. We can be real pains in a parents ass. I think we are supposed to be. I just wish I would have thanked you more. Like so much more.
I hope Heaven is as beautiful as I believe it to be. I hope you are both happy and free from pain. And I hope you know how much I love and appreciate you. I am so sorry I didn’t show you more when you were here.
Merry Christmas Mom and Dad
Your Daughter-Tiffany Buckman