Saying ‘Goodbye’ to My Daddy

My Daddy (Cornelius Dunbar Burton, Jr.) and me - Sept. 19, 2015.
My Daddy (Cornelius Dunbar Burton, Jr.) and me – Sept. 19, 2015.


Today, I say, ‘goodbye’ to you while you still have breath. Your lungs are failing you and cancer has invaded every cell in your body. You no longer eat nor drink. You are preparing to transition.

Family members told me you kept calling the nurse by my name. When I arrived early Friday morning, you were in a drug-induced deep sleep. I leaned close to your ear and whispered, “Daddy, this is Renee. I’m here.” You opened your eyes wide, but didn’t respond. I asked if you knew who I was, but you seemed to stare right through me. My heart ached. Then, what seemed like a moment of clarity, you looked directly at me, smiled and said, “Renee.”

I sit with you each night, holding your hand, caressing your forehead while watching your chest rise, you taking long delayed gasps. I know the end is near. My greatest desire is for you to know how much I’ve always loved you. I want you to know that I’m coming to terms with my anger against you for smoking and causing this horrific, painful suffering. Nonetheless, I love you. I need you to know that I’ve never stopped. I only wanted you to be happy and healthy.

Everyone who is born will die. Now, death is visiting my world. I want you to know it’s okay to transition. You bravely and honorably served our country for four years during the beginning of the Vietnam War. You saw the ravages of war. You don’t have to be brave here anymore. I’m not angry or upset with death. My only wish is for death to take you peacefully. So, today, I’m saying goodbye to you, Daddy. In this world, I will miss you; but, the next time I see you, you will be healthy and strong. We will be joking and laughing for eternity.

Goodbye for now, Daddy . . .

Clarissa Renee