"D id you ever get around to writing that one last letter to Dad?”

Rafi throws this out casually, along with a small avalanche of reply cards.

They scatter every which way, cheerfully knocking over a tin of paper clips, and I get some answering leeway in all the damage control.

“Hmm,” he says, when we are back to stuffing envelopes.

“Hmm,” I mimic, “Well, it’s not much of a letter, but yes, I tried...”

“Can it go then?” he asks. “Along with the others?”

“I suppose,” I say, “But it was a whole lot harder attempting to write to Daddy, and not just a journal entry. I don’t know, Rafi, I feel like my entries really weren’t intended for him.”

“Oh, but they were,” he says, “He was there, living, breathing in front of you as you wrote. I could feel it, could feel him so strong — and I was just reading.”

I look down at the card in my hand. Rose gold lettering on cream. Aunt Debbie’s invite, who would’ve thought?

Maybe things can still change between Dad and me? Who says it has to end with a shattered CD?

I look up, “All right, Rafi, I’m doing this, okay.”

He sticks his thumb up. “Good for you. You’re gonna feel much better.” He grins a little to himself.

I’m having none of it. “So, sir, what else can you cross off your ‘gotta do this before I’m off to yeshivah’ list?’” I say.

He rolls his eyes, and we are back to stuffing these splendid cards into a thousand and one envelopes. One very special wedding, coming up. 

Later, I take out my notebook and consider the letter. The spiral is stuffed with the remnants of torn out pages. I tried, really I did. I skim the tight script:

Dear Daddy,

It was nice seeing you the other day in the store. Twenty of you, or more. On the jackets of your CD.

Nice, but well... why don’t you read this stack of letters to find out more?

That’s it.

I frown over the meager sentences. Really, Naomi, have you nothing more to say to your old Dad?

He’ll see it all, there’s nothing more to say. I’m sending it off today.

But I choke up as I finish — I miss you like crazy — because somehow, someway, I do, and sign off with the name reserved just for Dad. Norms. Bittersweet.

I reach into my top drawer for my journal of letters, and stick this paltry offering on top. I carefully copy over Dad’s address onto the envelope.

My hand doesn’t quiver as I write. I’m not a cliché. But my heart does.

(Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 701)