Dear Dad,

It’s 4 days until Christmas. You’ve been gone for what feels like forever. I miss you so much, dad. You’ve been with me so much this month. In the Walgreen’s aisle with Almond Roca. In every bad dressed-up Santa. In the bicycle aisle at Wal-mart, and as I drove past the Harley store and heard your gut-busting laugh as I reminisced about running into the front door. With the Old Spice and the shaving cream I bought for Caroline’s slime. The rootbeer that I got just to think of you. In my feather pillow. In the measuring tape I needed at work and just happened to have in my car. When LG and I somehow managed to fix our own washing machine, the miracle belonged to you, and the moment wasn’t near what it could have been if I could have called you on the phone to hear your pride.

I wish I could see you just for a second. I want to see your smile. I want to feel your rough weathered hands. I want to smell you and feel the whiskers on your face when you try to give me a kiss and I turn my cheek to your greedy lips. One of the last things I said to you is that I don’t do kisses except for with LG and babies. I grew out of those a long time ago, but it never stopped you from trying. Ha. Unfortunately, as real as the memories are, because you aren’t actually here, I have to be satisfied with the memories making you alive in the sights, smells, and sounds that are here. When Mr. Bing Crosby whistles in “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas,” I just pretend that you are right upstairs. And I know you are.

Last month I went to the temple. I prayed and pleaded with God that he would let me see you. I waited in the Celestial Room for a long time, but you never came. I didn’t understand. I forced myself to my feet and walked toward the door dejected and disappointed. Outside the Celestial Room, I threw my fifty tear-soaked tissues in the garbage and got a drink of water for my perched throat, and then I noticed a burly man in his prime wearing a white suit watching my every move from where he stood at the top of the stair-case across the breezeway.

As I walked straight toward him turning to ascend the stairs back to my stressful and crazy lifestyle, I felt a peace permeate me. The peace was a literal thing, and it pierced straight through my entire being. As I turned back to make sense of this feeling — this weapon of peace — that could entice me to do anything and everything to keep it, the man smiled and said “goodnight.” I returned with an automated “goodnight,” like a Walton’s episode, while also automatically turning back around to let the goodnight of peace propel me back to so much drudgery below. After two steps, I realized that this man (if it wasn’t you) represented you. You had chosen to offer me the greatest thing you had to offer — peace. And out of all the things you could say, you chose “goodnight.” As if you were really saying, “don’t fret, Alice. I’ll see you tomorrow.” Upon my recognition of what had transpired, I jolted my head back to catch you, dad, but all I got was the back of your suit headed back into God’s abyss. You had other stuff to do, and at that moment I knew you were just fine. Busy, but fine. You stole the moment for your grieving child. You stole it just for me because you are way more than fine. You are busy in a place of white. You will always be watching, but not necessarily 100% present except in memory. You didn’t even wait for me turn back because it would have been too hard to say goodbye instead of just a simple goodnight.

Oh dad, you are everywhere that I am. I take you with me wherever I go. I know you’re fine, but I sure wish I could feel that peace all of the time.

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