Antonella lost her husband Vito after a brief illness.
‘I’m sorry for any words that may have hurt you. I have loved you forever and will love you forever more. THANK you for taking care of us. THANK you for growing alongside with ME, we both became adults. THANK you for giving me our two children. THANK you for teaching me to be strong. THANK you for loving me even when times were tough. I will never ever forget you and I hope you will be happy to see me again in heaven. Please watch over us. We miss you with all our hearts and soul. Because we thought you were coming home, we were so focused on you recovering and we left all unsaid. Because you were comatose most of the time you were unable to communicate with us. Ooh the heartache. 8 months gone.’
My stepfather David passed away when I was 36.
‘I always called you my stepdad because that’s what you were. It doesn’t matter that you and Mum never married and then split up. It’s important to me that you have a title in my life and stepdad is an important one. I can’t believe that I didn’t see you for 18 years after you split up and then we met through my old boss. Amazing, and I’m so grateful for it. I never told you but it was hard at first. As well as the good times from when I was young, I remember the difficult ones. How your manic depression affected us all, how you would disappear and Mum would hide it to protect us. The time with the window… do you even remember those times? But it doesn’t matter though because you were so kind, fun and loving to me. Those memories stuck out way more than the harder ones.
I so miss your eccentricity – don’t get mad at me for saying that. It made you so interesting, and all the tales of your fascinating life. You taught me so much about art, having opinions! You could be a grumpy old bastard, though. And I hated it when you cursed even though you didn’t think it was a big deal. Stepdad’s shouldn’t curse to stepdaughters!
But because of the split, the main reason it was hard was because I thought I would be betraying Mum. But the more I saw you the more I believed she would be happy if I was happy. Your enduring love for her made me want to cry. When I saw the photo of her on your mantel when I first visited you. I know your relationship was hard, but anyone who loves Mum that much means a lot to me, never mind the happy memories of my childhood that you helped create.
And then you went, too. I’m so sorry I wasn’t there to help you. I’ve closed my eyes so many times since and imagined sitting on the arm of your armchair as you peacefully passed away. I was holding your arm telling you everything would be ok, just like I told Mum when I was with her at the end. I can’t bear to think it was any other way. John said police found you 3 days after you hadn’t been seen by neighbors. It broke my heart. You’re ok now though, aren’t you? I don’t think they ever found Chookie. I’m so sorry, I know you loved her so much. I can only hope she wandered into a new house and they took her in. We’re getting a new kitten and we’re naming her Chookie for your Chookie.
I want you to know your influence helped shape me in so many ways. And I will forever be grateful for your blind faith in my abilities. You encouraged me with no hesitation or doubt about my skills and dreams, and that was like a breath of fresh air when self-doubt lingers.
I can never thank you enough for bringing Mum back to life. She had been gone so long when you and I reunited but it was as if with one wave of your wand you bought her back. Memories, stories of my childhood, details of Mum’s likes, dislikes, personality, her favorite restaurant. And now you’re gone. I often think you will never know how much you meant to me for those last four years, but here we are. When I came to stay with you for that work assignment, when you made me sandwiches every morning and drove me to the station to catch the train into work, do you have any idea how much that meant to me? I’m sure you don’t. I was 34 and felt like a kid again being looked after by their stepdad. I never had that with Dad because of the divorce and not growing up living with him, and I always missed it with him. But you filled that void even for that short precious time. With Mum gone for so long, no one did that for me anymore – for years.
But now you’re gone and I feel your absence so much. You said you were physic. Do you see me, the children, our lives? I honestly believe you do. And you’re with Mum again now, aren’t you? Thank you, and stay with me – however you can.’