My Father, The Hero

Home with Dad, 2011

I’ve been dreading this post but feel it’s necessary to write.  You see, I started this blog on a complete whim (back in 2010, there were little to no bloggers who deemed it a full-time career) one weekend while at my parents’ house in Ohio and continued on as it provided a necessary distraction.  What did I need to be distracted from?  I had a job that required 100% travel (meaning lots of nights alone in hotel rooms) and my dad was battling a cancer that I’d never heard of prior to his diagnosis.  Yes, this blog was a wonderful distraction and also acted as a way to explore my longtime interest of fashion, online shopping and personal style.  My parents were huge supporters of my blog (sometimes my mom made blog photos the background on her computer).  My dad had always been a fervent proponent of the written word.  He was a journalist in college, kept journals off and on for most of his adult life and even wrote sonnets for family weddings.

My dad passed away last month.  It hurts to even type out the words, let alone say out loud.  His multiple myeloma became very aggressive in the past year and although it eventually overtook his body, I always thought he would recover, like he always had before.  People rarely use the term “suddenly” when describing a loss from cancer, but to me it was.  His decline was fast and watching it all unfold was easily the worst month of my life.  I wouldn’t wish the anguish I feel upon anyone; it’s truly the worst feeling in the world knowing that I can never give him a hug or call him again.  Most people describe their loved ones in superlatives, but I believe at my core that my dad was the smartest, funniest and most witty person I’d ever known and ever will know.

I sob at the thought that he won’t get to see me grow up (because who is truly grown up at 29?) and more so that he won’t know Harry or my future children.  It still hasn’t hit me he won’t pick up the phone when I call for advice.  When I arrive to my parents’ house late at night after driving the four-hour trip from Chicago to Ohio, I’ll never hear his melodic voice echo in the hallway when he says, “hi hun” before he even sees my face.  I’ll never hear him tune his guitar in the living room as he sings quietly while strumming a Beatles song.  I’ll have to settle with videos and saved voicemails from him, which he always left, along with a witty quip or recent observation.

My little Harry has very blue eyes and although most babies do at birth, it’s odd that his have remained when Eric and I both have brown eyes.  When I spoke to my dad on his birthday two months ago (Flag Day/June 14), I told him, “you know, Harry still has his blue eyes and they just keep getting bluer.”  He replied, “well wouldn’t that be a nice tribute.”  I’ll never stop paying tribute to you, Dad…that I promise.

My dad, always the coolest guy in the room, in the early 70s
My handsome dad and me in Florida, 1985


  1. Hey Anna,

    The internet is a weird place. A place where I feel compelled to comment on your loss when we've never even met. I've dealt with my own bout of loss and grieving this summer and I just wanted to pass along sentiments that give me solace.

    Your father had such a profound impact on you and your family and his legacy, influence and impact will live on beyond the demise of his body. Not everyone is like that. Remembering him and how he lived is powerful.

    I know these words seem so silly when dealing with loss but I also found comfort in this: And finally, I found that the death of a loved one creates a vacuum – and the larger their life, the larger the vacuum. But that void pulls everyone around them closer together.

    Thinking of you and your fam.

  2. Dear Anna,
    I am so sorry to hear of your loss. I am glad you wrote this post, I appreciate the words and I understand how you must have dreaded writing them. I feel the same way about my dad, and he passed away suddenly (cardiac arrest) when I was 17…15 years ago. He missed my graduations, my wedding, my children, my life. He missed growing old with my mom. Time does heal and grief does become familiar. There are never any words, but here is a poem by Henry Scott Holland that always makes me feel better. Maybe you will like it, too:

    Death is nothing at all. It does not count. I have only slipped away into the next room. Nothing has happened. Everything remains exactly as it was. I am I, and you are you, and the old life that we lived so fondly together is untouched, unchanged. Whatever we were to each other, that we are still. Call me by the old familiar name. Speak of me in the easy way which you always used. Put no difference into your tone. Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow. Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes that we enjoyed together. Play, smile, think of me, pray for me. Let my name be ever the household word that it always was. Let it be spoken without an effort, without the ghost of a shadow upon it. Life means all that it ever meant. It is the same as it ever was. There is absolute and unbroken continuity. What is this death but a negligible accident? Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight? I am but waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near, just round the corner. All is well. Nothing is hurt; nothing is lost. One brief moment and all will be as it was before. How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting when we meet again!

  3. I am so deeply sorry for your loss Anna. My heart broke when I say your instagram post, and it still aches for you. I truly hope that you are able to find peace soon.

    He seemed like a wonderful man who's legacy will live through his children and grandchildren. I get goosebumps thinking about what a blessing Harry was, and how grateful you must be that your dad was able to meet him.

    stay strong


  4. I'm so sorry to hear about your loss. No matter what the situation is, it's never easy losing someone who plays such an important role in your life. Thanks for sharing your memories of your dad with us, never forget the good times you shared together.
    Much Love.

  5. What a lovely tribute 🙂 thank you for sharing a little part of your heart with us today.

    I just wanted to let you know that you're not alone in feeling this way — I lost my dad to cancer at the early age of thirteen, and even though he was sick on and off for three years, it felt so sudden for me as well.

    It took me a while to find the right way to honor my dad's memory, but when I finally did, it made all the difference. Now I pay tribute to him through my blog (just like you have :D) every Pi Day (3/14, as that's the day he passed away) by baking a pecan pie from scratch.

    Hope your continued writing helps you find some calm 🙂 sending lots of love to you and your family.

    Warm regards,

  6. Oh my heart breaks for you. I lost my dad before my 21st birthday and 5 years down the line it still hits hard when I read something like this. I know the pain you are feeling and it is something I wish I could protect everyone from. As I can't, all I can do is offer my advice after coming out the tunnel of grief: be kind to yourself. Give yourself rest, good food and joyful experiences. Allow yourself to feel whatever you feel, whenever you feel it. Grief is not a linear process, it doesn't just fade down. It has peaks and troughs and the triggers are often the most unexpected of things. Allow yourself to talk about him, let others know him through you. Laughing at the memories can do a lot to heal. Nothing will replace your dad, but I promise that life can still feel good without him. There is light at the end of this tunnel and don't forget that you are his best tribute. Lots of love
    Chambray & Curls /

  7. I am so sorry for your loss, a wonderful tribute to a wonderful father and a reminder to those of use who are still blessed with ours to hug them a little tighter. x

  8. My deepest condolences for your loss…I don't know your family personally but my heart aches for you. Your father sounds like an awesome man- no one can hope for a better legacy than to be remembered by his daughter in the beautiful words you wrote.

  9. Oh Anna, your post makes my heart ache. When I read the first paragraph and you said, "a cancer I had never heard of…" I had a gut feeling it was Multiple Myeloma. And sure enough, a few lines later, it was.
    This Sunday will be five years since my Father-in-Law passed away from the same cancer. He passed on my husband's birthday and just months before we were pregnant with our first, a little boy that we named after him. It still stings, especially when we see how much joy has come with these grand babies (now two!) wishing he were here with us to enjoy it all. Know that you are not alone and that as horrendous a loss as it is, time is your friend and you will create a new sense of normal over the years that follow.
    Thank you for sharing your heart Anna. I am truly sorry for your loss.

  10. Wiping away tears as I write this. I am losing my Dad to Alzheimer's and know that I will have a similar message to send one day soon. It is the most awful, devastating thought and something that fills me with dread and sorrow. My heart is heavy for you and I am so sorry to hear of your loss. Thoughts and prayers for comfort during this time, there are no words that make it okay.

  11. I'm so sorry for your tremendous loss.

    When I first learned that my Dad had suddenly passed away, the first thing I thought was how I had lost someone who always loved me unconditionally…..Over five years later, one of the things that surprised me to learn is that his love iwas a forever gift that no one or anything can take away. The memory of that love is so powerfully embedded in your heart…..Of course it's not the same thing as having them still here, but I pray and hope you find with time that it comforts your heart.

  12. Hi Anna,
    When your blog didn't update into Feedly and there were no new Instagram posts I suspected something bad must have happened. I am so sorry. You are so lucky to have had such a wonderful relationship with your father and thank you for blogging, your blog is one of the few fashion blogs that really seems real and genuine. Best wishes to you and your family.

  13. Anna-
    I, like other readers suspected something must had been going on when I did not see you post for sometime. I too lost my Dad to cancer this year. I am around your age and it is the hardest most heartbreaking thing I have ever endured. I hope you are lifted up by all of the love sent by your friends, family, and readers. I know he would be so proud of the lives you have touched just by sharing your story. Keeping you in my thoughts and prayers.


  14. I'm so sorry for your loss Anna–your dad sounds like a fantastic man. My grandfather, too, passed away from multiple myeloma. Truly a terrible, debilitating disease. Your family is in my thoughts. xo.

  15. Hey Anna,
    I saw your father's obituary through Fb and I read a bit of it out loud to my friend who I was with at the time (a quote from your uncle I believe…) because it really hit me.
    I'm sorry about your loss. Really really sorry. Dads are special and special dads are even more special.
    I don't know, I have so many things to say and it's all coming out wrong but I just want you to know I've thought about you a lot this last month.
    I hope time brings some peace, even though you will always miss your wonderful father.

  16. Ayy….Jane, I am so sorry to hear about this and had to hold back the tears while reading this. A couple months ago, I also posted a similar post about my mother who was recently diagnosed with cancer. She is currently battling an aggressive form of leukemia and I swear, EVERY minute is such a blessing with her. Honey – you are so brave to share this vulnerable piece of you with the world and we are ALL here to support you. God bless.

  17. This is a beautiful post and I feel so very intensely for you and your loss. I understand how hard this is, and how sudden and acute it can seem. I just would like you to know I admire your obvious strength for writing about it and your wonderful father. It's a beautiful thing to rise when you lose someone, to pour all of those horrible emotions into your passions, to grow from them rather than fall. I am thinking of you.
    Lots of love.

  18. So sorry for your loss, Anna. I'm 31, and still feel I have a lot of "growing up to do' that I need my dad to be around to see. I hope you are comforted by the wonderful memories of your dad, and seeing his eyes every time you look at your little boy.

  19. Hi Anna,
    Your post made me crying…I lost my dad when I was 14, and now I'm 29…but I still remember his voice, his hugs, his smell, his laugh…this is the best part of memories, you have them and you can always think of them.
    At first it hurts a looot, but after a while, you can think about him without crying, without feeling lost…and when you see a part of him in you…well, that is the best part… 🙂
    I send you a huge hug!

  20. Hello from Spain: I follow your blog in a while but I never wrote. At this point, I know the pain that you pass. A parent is the best of our lives. Much encouragement and be strong. Your father will always be in you through your thoughts.Your tribute is very nice.

  21. Oh Anna. I am so deeply sorry for your loss. What a terrible thing. It is a beautiful tribute to your Dad to post and to write to beautifully. Keeping you in my thoughts. – Daniella, Seattle, WA

  22. Even though I've never met you, my heart breaks for you. I lost my mom when I was a teenager and all I can say is that though that loss never leaves your heart completely, it does get easier. I'll be praying for comfort and peace for you and your family.

  23. i am so so sorry for your loss. my thoughts are with you and your family. your post and your words touched me so much that i know he must have been so loved and loved you in return. what a beautiful family you had and have.

  24. Hi Anna, I'm so sorry for your loss. I lost my Dad on June 16th of this year after his year long battle to lung cancer. I'm 30 and totally get how you're feeling. This poem by Henry Scott Holland has helped me through the recovery process. Hope it does the same for you. Katy

    Death Is Nothing At All

    Death is nothing at all,
    I have only slipped away into the next room.
    Whatever we were to each other, we still are.
    Please, call me by my old familiar name.
    Speak of me in the same easy way you always did.
    Laugh, as we always laughed, at the little jokes we shared together.
    Think of me and smile.
    Let my name be the household name it always was,
    Spoken without the shadow of a ghost in it.
    Life means all it ever meant.
    It is the same as it ever was.
    Death is inevitable, so why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight?
    I am but waiting for you, – for an interval very near.
    Nothing is past or lost.
    One brief moment and all will be as it was before,
    Only better and happier.
    Together forever.
    All is well.

  25. I am so sorry for your loss Anna. Your eloquence and grace are a great testament to what your parents are. Your dad will live on in you, your siblings and your beautiful son. May he rest in peace. Lots of love and hugs to you and your family.

  26. Anna,

    What you wrote is heartbreaking, yet beautiful and bought flowing tears to my face. Although I don't know you on a personal level, my heart breaks for you.

    I don't have any other words than I'm truly sorry. I hope time makes you heart just a little less.


  27. Anna, I am sorry for your loss and can't imagine how you are feeling at the moment. Although I do not know you personally, I have been following your blog for the past year and truly admire it. You have a wonderful sense for style, writing and expressing yourself. My thoughts are with you and your family.


  28. I just wanted to tell you that I'm so sorry for your loss. What an amazing tribute this post is – and so special that your son shares your dad's eyes. Your family is in my prayers.

  29. Wonderfully written, Anna,

    I was so sorry to hear your sad news and have thought of you often this past month. Will keep you and your family in my prayers.

  30. Hi Anna,
    We've never met before but your post brought me to tears. I can't imagine losing a parent, especially when you have a very close relationship. I wish you and your family all the best during this season. Seek out your family and friends, let them do things for you, and keep celebrating the good things in life!

  31. I never really comment but have been following your blog for years now and I just read this post and literally cried … I can't imagine what you and your family are going through … I lost my grand dad recently and it still hurts but can't imagine life without a dad … You have all those wonderful memories that you can hold onto and your little beautiful baby who is a new life in the family! Lots of thoughts to you all!


  32. I'm so sorry to hear about this. My dad passed away from cancer when I was 24 and I thought I would die from the grief. I had no idea how awful and depressed a human being could feel. People kept telling me that one day I would feel better but I couldn't believe it. One thing that kept me going was knowing what a great life my father had, even if it was short. He was so loved by everybody and I always felt that he lived his life to the fullest. It did take a long time to come to terms with my grief, but it got easier and I can now remember my dad and smile instead of feeling the panic and loss that I initially felt. Give yourself time and be gentle with yourself. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

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