“Would ‘sorry’ have made any difference? Does it ever? It’s just a word. One word against a thousand actions.”
― Sarah Ockler, Bittersweet

Dear Dad,

Tonight the sun will set and Yom Kippur will begin. I remember so vividly, four years ago, talking to you and Mom on the phone for the first time in six years. It was just before Kol Nidre services. We’d been corresponding by email, but it was time to take that next step.

Yes, you got my letter on Rosh Hashanah. I got your answer upon coming home from Tashlich. The emails began and Yom Kippur seemed a perfect time to hear your voice and mom’s voice. We lived out forgiveness in it’s truest and most authentic form. Letting go of past hurts, grievances, anger and resentment. Letting go of six years of distance, silence, absence and estrangement. Our voices cracked, we all cried. Healing truly began….

And now you are gone. Our story of new beginnings, came to an abrupt and unimaginable end. I thought we had endured the worst thing that parents and children could endure. I was wrong.

Tonight, I will beat my chest and recite
Al Chet. Not the Al Chet in the prayer book. No, mine is far more personal than that.

Al chet
I’m sorry I did not truly see the depths of your pain.
Al chet
I’m sorry I did not perceive how hopeless you were feeling.
Al chet
I’m sorry I did not ask you if you were thinking of hurting yourself. I know now that asking that question directly is so very important.
Al chet
I’m sorry I did not get to say goodbye to you.
Al chet
I’m sorry that you could not see the value in your life. The love that surrounded you.
Al chet
I’m sorry I didn’t know more. If you had revealed to me all of it, every ounce of the invisible suffering, I know I could have, would have done more for you.
Al chet
I’m sorry for anything I might have said wrong.
I’m sorry for anything I did not say.
Words and opportunities missed that might have led to a different ending.
Al chet
I’m sorry that some days I am angry at you. But I am. You left me. You left our family with so much pain. I am striving to forgive you, forgive me, forgive God. I’m sorry I can’t simply let that go.
Al chet
I’m sorry you died alone.
Al chet
I’m sorry your end was not peaceful. It was cruel, dark and violent.
Al chet
I’m sorry I’ll never hear your voice again. I’ll never feel your embrace again. I’ll never get to tell you that I love you again.
Al chet
I’m sorry you won’t get to see your granddaughters continue to grow up, to be present for the milestones and simchas that lie ahead.
Al chet
I didn’t know Daddy.
I didn’t truly know…
I tried.
You know that, right?
Fred describes sin, as missing the mark.
Al chet
I’m sorry I did not comprehend how depression can metastasize into your soul, how anxiety could inflict physical pain. How much internal hemorrhaging there was, day by day. Slowly eating away at you. Draining you of the will to live. Depriving you of the strength you needed to continue the fight.
I missed.
We all missed.
We missed the signs.
We see them all now.
The rear view mirror does not, can not change anything.
The beating of the chest when we recite Al chet is painful.
You beat yourself up.
You pounded your fist upon your leg, upon your self.
You beat yourself up inside too.
A burden
These words inflicted as much pain as a fist.
Perhaps even more, because only you could feel them, hear them and they got louder & louder…
Al chet
I’m so very sorry that this was your ending Daddy.
I’m so very sorry I could not, we could not help you, save you, love you through the darkness, until you saw the light.
You were in a storm.
You were lost.
You were immersed in darkness.
Al chet
We were supposed to be the lighthouse that guided you to safety. But you couldn’t see it…

“I’m sorry no one saved you.”
― Maggie Stiefvater, The Dream Thieves

me and dad wedding