Eighteen years ago. My last chance to hug you, to be engulfed in your arms and whisper, “I love you,” to give you–my favorite–butterfly kisses. Did I hug you that day? Did you hold my hand or give me a kiss? I wish I could remember. But I was only 9.

Oh, how I long to hug you now! Not just to feel your warmth, to hear your heart beating and remember the sound of your voice, but to know what it feels like to hug my daddy when I’m no longer a little girl. How I wish I could have grown to know you as a friend, a companion.

Would we practice Spanish together? Would I sit for hours listening to your stories of life in Colombia? Oh, how I long to know of the years you spent growing up there, to know not just what it was like but how it impacted you as a person. Would you understand my heart and passion for Latin America? Really, truly understand because it was inside you, too, running deep in your veins? Would we still love hiking together, even though I’m now too big for you to carry on your shoulders? Would we talk on the phone? Would our personalities clash, us both being so strong-headed? Would I have made a habit of watching ice hockey with you, not because it interested me particularly, but because I just wanted to hang out with you? I’ve only ever known you as my daddy, which sort of gives someone a superhuman quality. What would it be like to know you as my friend, a fellow human being?

I never got that chance, and for that, I still shed tears. Eighteen years ago, my life changed when your life was taken. I have come to be thankful for the almost 10 years that I did have you, for the “I love you”s, the hugs, the butterfly kisses, for the silly games we played, for having a Daddy, because there are some who never get to experience either a loving daddy or a friend in their father.

Today, though, I want to know your hug.

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