November 4, 2017

A Letter to my Dying Dad. {Poem}

Many of us cannot be with our fathers at the very end of their lives.

But, for those who can, the experience can be magical.

I had the honor and privilege of spending the last three weeks of my father’s life by his side. I was there for him, and I was strong for him. You see, I owed my father.

I owed him all the strength he had spent the last year of his life giving me, as he guided me through the most difficult year of mine. My father looked after me. He helped me awaken the warrior in me. He did this for his son—and he did it without hesitation.

During that year he protected me and made me strong.

I spent the night sleeping next to him on a cot and it was the happiest of my life.

Our room was bright from the moonlight. The sky was full of clouds and the windows were cracked open. The crisp air and the quiet were our only visitors.

As I lay beside him I travelled through the memories of us; all the things about a father that a child remembers. I listened to him breathe and I held his hand. I sang to him and stroked his hair.

I told him I was sorry he was worried about me. I assuaged his fears and assured him I would be okay. I thanked him for protecting me and for helping me find the strength I needed to become a warrior. I told him I would be the best father there ever was, and I was proud to be his son.

There was nothing in the room that night but my love for my dad.

In the middle of the night I woke up, and with moonlit paper and a pencil, wrote him this letter. It was then that I truly became my father’s son.


As I lie next to you, I can hear you breathe.

As you lie near me, I feel my heart beating.

My fears subside.

My mistakes forgiven.

Yours are too.

I see how you are weak,

I remember you as strong.

You found a way onto your side, pillow between your knees, just as I do.

I am your son.

Hands clenched together, just as I do.

You are my father.

You are a great man.

I wish it for me. 

You protected your loved ones, but you had no possessions.

No. We have no possessions.

We do better without.

You didn’t possess me, Dad.

But I cherish you now.

You created your life, and asked for no help.

You are a disciplined man.

I wish it for me.

You lived with fear Dad, most of us do.

But Mom, she had no fear

Not with you.

You kept her safe.

Mom is afraid now Dad, but you kept her safe.

You are a real man.

I wish it for me.

I cherish you now.

I love being with you now.

You have your son.

I have my father.

Let’s watch hockey dad, as it should be.

My favorite times were with you, throwing the baseball in the backyard.

Outside my bedroom window, you taught me how to catch with that perfect sound, and throw the perfect ball.

This is how we talked.

Early mornings, up before dawn, snowing outside, half dressed in the dark.

Off to hockey we went.

I do it with my sons too, Dad.

You are my father.

In the dark we spend this night together, perhaps our first, but never our last.

See Dad…I honor you.

I admire you in our silences.

You are a respected man.

I wish it for me.

I don’t feel bad this night.

I feel you.

I feel only you.

You give me purpose for the first time, but not the last.

I don’t need to walk alone anymore because I have you.

You are a moral man.

I wish it for me. 

You own my script now Dad.

How lucky I am that you do.

I own it now, too.

I am your son.

Your wish Dad,

It is me.


Author: Billy Rugg
Image: Author’s own
Editor: Lieselle Davidson
Copy Editor: Sara Kärpänen

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