To My Dad This Father's Day, as He Supports Me Through My Chronic Illness
This Father’s Day, I want you to know exactly what you mean to me.
We have always done things together, whether that was going to the barn to ride horses, skiing double-black diamonds when I was 8, or eating toast together on weekends. You were a trooper — you never hesitated to participate in the father-daughter routine for my dance recital (even if it meant you had to dress in drag!). Even though you traveled frequently throughout my childhood, there was never an event that you missed; I could always count on looking out in the crowd and seeing you cheer me on.
We both grew older, but our bond didn’t change. We still went skiing each weekend and counted how many days we got in at the end of the season. You became my soccer coach, and even if I was not thrilled about my dad telling me how to play the game, I was lucky to spend those hours with you.
Since I became chronically ill at 14, the time we spent together changed. I couldn’t ski every weekend anymore (and haven’t been on the slopes in two years). I had to quit soccer and we couldn’t enjoy the after-game meal together. Instead, much of my time was spent at doctors’ appointments and in the hospital. But even then, you were still there. You were there to cheer me up before going into another procedure. You were there to make sure I was getting the proper treatment. You were there when I needed you the most.
You have learned to be my biggest advocate and cheerleader. I can count on you to ask all the right questions to ensure I get the best care. Because you have your own experience with chronic illness, you have always understood mine. You know how isolating it can be and how a person can hide pain so well. You understand how quickly life can change and how exhausting simply existing can feel. I think about all the times you have driven six hours in a couple days notice just to take me to a procedure. I cannot even count the times I have woken you up at 2 o’clock in the morning to drive me to the emergency room one and half hours away. We have trekked tens of thousands of miles to see the best doctors. Each of those moments has reminded me that you are the epitome of a father.
So, even though the activities we do together are different from those we used to do, the time spent together is the same. We still have fun, we still laugh, and most importantly, we are still together. You have never failed me; your support is immeasurable. Fortunately, we also manage to spend time together unrelated to my health. You might be the only dad to have attended a Taylor Swift concert with your family… three times! You and I can watch HGTV for hours on end. Of course, I miss the days before I became ill. My chronic illnesses have changed many things about my life, but one thing it has not changed is my relationship with you.