79: Saying Goodbye to Daddy

79: Saying Goodbye to Daddy

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Dreams and the Unexplainable

Saying Goodbye to Daddy

We cannot destroy kindred: our chains stretch a little sometimes, but they never break.

~Marquise de Sévigné

Just before Easter in 2004, I was driving home from work. I was tired from the long day I’d had and my mind was drifting. Suddenly, it was as if someone were sitting next to me in the car. I couldn’t see anyone, of course. But in my mind, I heard a voice speaking to me. I recognized it from several years before when it had told me that my great-grandmother was going to pass away right before she did.

This time, in a flat, non-emotional tone, the voice said, “Your father is going to kill himself. He’s going to shoot himself.”

My dad was a happy-go-lucky guy. He was filled with laughter and lightheartedness. I didn’t want to believe that this could happen. My dad and I weren’t very close. He and my mother divorced when I was little, and aside from Christmas, I didn’t really see him or talk to him much. I had always wanted to be closer to him, but he wasn’t an easy person to get close to.

I pushed away the voice immediately. My dad was a gunsmith. I couldn’t imagine him doing something so awful. And yet, even though I couldn’t wrap my head around it, something inside me felt it was the truth.

I told my sister. She and I bought him an Easter card and signed it with our phone numbers, asking him to call us. We left it on his porch, hoping he would get in touch. We didn’t hear from him all through April that year. So I made copies of the photographs we had taken together at Christmas just a few months earlier and framed them. I took them to his house and visited with him. I don’t know if I was trying to make myself feel better by seeing him and making sure that he still seemed stable, or if I was using the whole thing as an excuse to be close to him and try one more time to connect as his daughter. He did seem to be a little more distant than usual, but he still laughed and joked. So, I left his home, dismissing my scary premonition.

A few months later, I was staying over at a friend’s house. I had a terrible feeling that night. The voice came again and said, “You’re an orphan now. You no longer have a father.” I have anxiety, so I dismissed it as just being my imagination. After all, the movie my friend and I were watching was about a father trying to save his daughter from a kidnapper. So I figured I was just being emotional. We went to bed that night, and early the next morning I received a phone call telling me that my father had shot himself in the head at around 9:30 p.m., which was when I had heard the voice.

Of course, it was a horrifying experience, and it still hurts me today. But I’m thankful for the premonition that urged me to try one more time so I don’t have any guilt. That voice sent me to visit my father. It pushed me to have those pictures framed and they sat atop the closed casket at his funeral. Later, they were given back to me. I still have them in the same frames.

I got to give my father a last hug that night as I left his house. He knew how I felt, and I am at peace.

~Betty Jane Coffman

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