Dear Dad,

Happy anniversary. Ten years ago today you stepped into something good in the great big dairy farm in the sky. How is it going? Are the cows healthy and well-fed? Do the milk tanks still have its divine shine, or have you been so successful that there’s no denying the wear and tear?

I imagine you must be happy. I imagine you in overalls, shoveling shit and looking up at me with the proudest grin, from ear to ear.

It’s been a decade since I last saw you. A decade. A DECADE.

I rarely think of you anymore, but because this is the big one-oh I’ve been thinking of writing you this letter. (Did you get the one I wrote a couple of years ago? I was planning to write a book about you, but… oh well. I got as far as writing two pages worth of memories, one for each line in my journal. Turns out, that was good enough for me at the time.)

So yeah. I rarely think of you anymore. That doesn’t mean never, though. You were a tremendous influence on me, for better or for worse. I am always aware of how I am, how I react, how I overreact. I am aware how much of that had been molded by you, and how much I have grown on my own in the last 10 years.

A decade!

I remember how you often said that sometimes I need to get burned in order to learn a lesson. Not literally, of course. I need to experience life’s joys — and its consequences. (Yet, instead of following through on that philosophy, you continued to shield me, to protect me. I never understood that. Maybe I will when I become a parent.)

To be sure, I have grown a lot in the last year, and especially in the last few months. I realize I needed to experience both joys and its consequences in order to learn what I am capable of, how far I actually go to please people and how disastrous that can be.

I know you were unhappy the last seven years of your life (almost a decade). You’re happier now, I hope. Unlike you, I choose not to free myself of self-doubt and pessimism by death. It’s too bad you did not realize you could be happy with life while you had a life to live.

Because you see, it’s not enough to hold on to a lifelong dream and be discouraged when things do not go your way or how you planned it. Sometimes disastrous consequences are not so dire when you step away from them. And when you step far enough away, you start to realize how unnecessary being caught up in the drama (that you create for yourself) really is, because all that you have to make yourself happy is within yourself. You don’t have to travel the world, you don’t have to seek sanctuary in others, you don’t have to die first before you find true happiness.

Sometimes you need to let go, and go with the flow. … Be happy you’re still breathing in and out, be happy that people can be your friends if you let them, be happy that you alone have the ability to know what is right for you at any given moment, no matter what anyone else says or does. Be happy you’re moving in the right direction.

Because sometimes, you do end up getting what you want.