Life Without Dad: Year 3

Wow.  It’s been three years since I last held my father’s hand.  The past three summers have been tough.  Once the end of June comes, it’s like I re-live the last month of my dad’s life over again.  The worry, the moments of relief, the worst day ever, the denial, the next worst day ever, the numbness, the compartmentalization of feelings and ultimately, the disbelief that my father was no longer on the Earth with me.

I have all his voicemails saved (he ALWAYS left me voicemails, often saying the same thing) and I while I can’t quite bring myself to play them regularly, I know I’ll never delete them (or his number).  When I do happen to hear his voice in old videos or recordings, I’m oddly comforted–and not saddened–by that familiar sound.  I also don’t dream about him often but when I do, they’re vivid and I feel a little shook when I wake up.  But all in all, these days, I don’t get choked up when I start talking about him.  I can casually reference my dad and the fact that he’s longer with us without wincing as the words escape my throat.  I, of course, think of the good times and I’m ok with thinking about the not so good times, too, because my dad was, after all, human.

What does get me–every single time, is thinking about the fact that he doesn’t know my kids.  And mostly, what really hits home, is that they will never know him as a physical being.  To them, he will always be “Popieux” from a photograph or from that story I tell them.  They will not know my dad.  He will just be a fictional character to them–someone that my family talks up, like some old legend.  That is what causes my eyes to well with tears these days.

I have some photos of my dad around the house and they’re mostly older photos from when he’s younger (i.e. my parents’ wedding, a photograph he took of himself) and Harry used to talk to them when he was eating.  One night, when Harry was just about two years old, I was laying in bed with him after reading some stories and he was talking about dreams.

‘Oh yeah?’ I ask, ‘who’s in your dreams?’

‘Popieux,’ he replies.

My throat gets a little dry–kind of like when I’m caught off guard and am prompted to talk about my dad.

“Really?” I ask (…my two year old).  “What does he say to you?”

Harry, still laying in bed, is looking up in the ceiling but his eyes are getting heavy and you can tell he’s close to dream land.

“I miss you,” he says and drifts off to sleep.


Read Life Without Dad – Year 1 here and My Father the Hero here.


  • Everything spoke to me …that numbness felt like eternity, for me it’s going to two years this October. I still get chocked up everytime . I feel its going to be the same my future kids they are not going to meet my dad just from a picture . Thank you for sharing this ????????

    • Ugh, I’m so sorry Jessica. I’ve realized that it’s on me to keep his memory alive –especially for the kids. Hope you can do the same.

  • Thank you for sharing this memory of your dad and his passing. Thank you for sharing your feelings and for allowing me to remember my dad. For you it’s been 3 years, for me 13 years and 1 week since my dad died. I related to everything you said. Especially that my dad now has great-grandchildren he would have adored, who would have adored him yet they’ve never met.

  • Beautiful Anna; I know your dad is so proud of how you’ve continued to grow and that he absolutely looks down and adores your boys. Sending you hugs on this tough anniversary. Xo

  • I’m so sorry for your loss. So much of what you said resonated. It’s been 7 years since my dad died, and I’m due with my first kiddo this year, so yeah. I had a complicated relationship with him in his last few years, so that adds another layer of complexity to remembering/grieving him.

    This was kind of rambly, but thanks for your post. Sending you good thoughts.

  • I am sure that he is talking to your son Harry. They are around us watching and children often can see and hear things we cannot. I believe this. I’m so glad that you are still talking about your dad on your blog. I feel that you are more human if you can talk or write about these things. Thank you for that.

    • I think so, too! I’ve always heard that kids have a sixth sense….I hold on to the hope that maybe he IS talking to him.

  • The anniversary of my dad’s death is 7/23-same as Amy Winehouse-& he would have gotten a chuckle out of that – it’s been 6 years – I came across a beautiful tribute that my son made about “Grampy” in a college application of all places- I had never read- our children always surprise & comfort us in unexpected ways…. I miss him every day- my thoughts/prayers with you

  • Anna,

    I’ve been following you for some time now because your style and your content is so real and relatable. When you posted about your dad three years ago, my heart sank for you (as a fellow daddy’s girl) . At around the same age, you’ve reminded me to make the most of these years with my dad and to create memories that will never be lost. Your family is beautiful and your heart is too, and I know your boys will grow to have this same deep love for you.

    • Thanks for the note, SB! Treasure your dad! Although my dad knew I loved him, I wish I could have another day to learn from him and love him all the same.

  • Two years in April without my Dad. I still feel him all the time. Especially when I listen to his favorite radio station in my car. We spent lots of time together near the end. It was so hard watching him waste away, but I’m so grateful I was with him at the end. We left nothing unsaid. So happy about that.

  • Reading this gives me hope that things will get better. I just recently lost my dad a couple weeks ago pretty tragically. I would say the hardest for me is also knowing my kids will never know who my Dad really was. ❤️ I know God has a plan for everything. Praying for your healing. Your kind words about your dad are beautiful.

  • Thank you for sharing this! I feel like this post came at exactly the right time! It has only been a year since I unexpectedly lost my Dad. Grief is such a strange character. One day, month, week, I’m great and then BAM, it hits me. Reading your blog gives me hope that one day I can play all those voice messages and talk to my son about him without choking up. Thank you!

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