You Were The Greatest Man In My Life Until You Weren’t – By Jessica Donovan

father-445096_1920Give me bear hugs. Teach me how to ride my bike. Burp a song into a paper towel roll to make me laugh. Put bunny ears behind my head in pictures. Carry me when I broke my ankle. Make ice cream the thing that fixes all my sorrows. Cheer me on at little league. Take me for rides in your garbage truck. Let my friends and I ride in the bed of the pick-up truck while you fly down hills. Take me to my first drive in movie. Let me wear your t-shirt as a dress when I pee my pants at the Meadowlands Fair. Throw a pizza and chocolate milk party for just the two of us in the middle of July. Lift me up to pick apples out of a tree. Dress up as Santa for me. Love my friends as much as you loved me. Be my first work-out partner. Gently explain its time to go pick out deodorant for me. Give me rose bud earrings when I get my first period and tell me to not be ashamed of the woman I am becoming. Reassure me that I’ll always be your little girl. Protect me against anyone that dares to try and hurt me – including my own mother. Take me out on dates so I know how a man should treat me. Teach me how to cook and garden. Make me cut the grass and clean the pool so I know what responsibility is. Make it a house rule that the word stupid is never used to describe me. Take me to open my first bank account. Show me how to do bills and keep a checkbook. Risk your life by teaching me how to drive. Be adamant about me putting my thoughts on paper and accessing the poetic side of myself. Push me to always do better. Cover your beard in Cheerios and cross your eyes until I laugh so hard that I can’t breathe. Rush me to the hospital just before my appendix burst. Tell me stories about your childhood and great-grandmother.


Expose your pain and sensitivity to me. Let me know life can be a bitch and teach me to distinguish between the person and the parent. Alienate yourself from me. Give me the silent treatment during your withdrawals after 6 days of binging. Sit me down and tell me that I can’t stop you because it’s your life. Pick at your gorgeous freckled skin until there was nothing left but pink scars. Wake me up at 3am, drag me outside and tell me that the men behind the fence have our house tapped and they are going to take me from you. Be totally unaware that I am the one wiping your bloody nose with a warm washcloth while you lay passed out. Be too high to realize my first boyfriend beat the shit out of me. Invite drug dealers and homeless people to come live in my home. Be too caught up in drugs to realize they were trying to fuck me. Have me cover for your dealers when the cops pull me over and question me. Teach me how to sell prescription meds on the street. Ask me to pay for all the bills that didn’t get paid because you put it up your nose. Hold me, cry and apologize when the highs and withdrawals wear off. Rip my heart out. Binge with my mother the night before her death. Promise me you won’t leave me alone and that you’ll be there to see my “little bambinos”. Die seven weeks later from an overdose of street drugs and prescription meds. Rip my heart out again. Leave me with all the bills, burden of funeral arrangements, estates, and a numb mind. Teach me exactly what I don’t want in life.


You were the greatest man in my life until you weren’t. Pieces of me died with you that day but you taught me how to survive and be enough for myself. Thank you for that. You tried your damnedest to be the best father you could be and for that, I’ll always love you.


About Jessica Donovan

As a New Jersey native, Jessica is a banker turned stay at home mom to 2 girls. Growing up as an only child, both of her parents were functioning drug addicts until they lost the ability to function. Their untimely demise came in 2004. As a result, Jessica is no stranger to anxiety and depression. With a love of writing since her early teens, putting pen to paper has always been a source of therapy and comfort. She believes talking about addiction and mental illness is important for removing stigma. Her hope is that sharing her story will empower others to get the help they need to stop the cycles of addiction. Jessica is also a pretty badass cook and even though she doesn't have the space to garden, she loves growing vegetables and keeping house plants alive. She runs her own blog at and is a contributor for Should you want to have deep conversations about addiction, share a recipe, trade tips on gardening or just say hi, you can contact her at
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  1. Always hurts but time and growth gives a perspective that will never come from pain alone. Being a daddy’s girl is awesome, hang onto it forever. 🙂

  2. wow … there are no words. :'( as a daddy’s girl myself i can’t even begin to imagine what this would be like. i’m the only one of “us” in my family so i don’t know what it’s like to be from an addicted family at all, much less lose another family member to the disease. my thoughts and prayers go out to you, because i know though time has passed this still hurts.

  3. Amazing, I am in shock with your story, was sad and horrible, then you became it beautiful. I admire how you learn from it. God bless you.

  4. Jessica, your story of your father reminds me sooo much of my own. Reading this poetic entry broke my heart because I can relate to you soo deeply. And for that, I love you. Thank you so much for sharing your story with us, I know it’s not always easy. You make the world a better place. Love you!!


    • I’m glad you can relate. Sometimes knowing that others understand what we have been through makes the struggle easier. 🙂

  5. Very sad, touching, hopeful all rolled into on.. Lovely writing xx

  6. Avatar
    Jessica Donovan

    Thank you! 🙂

  7. Wow! Good for you for being able to share your life with others to help them move on. I’m sorry that your father was not there for you in the way he should have been. Congrats and breaking the cycle and providing your girls with a wonderful life with loving parents!

  8. I loved the way you wrote this and also love your last paragraph. Gives much hope, strength, forgiveness, and love to these situations. Thank you

    • Thank you for your insight. I feel these situations need love and awareness that we are all flawed beings. Doesn’t erase the situation but it can make it easier to decipher.

  9. Your prose is beautiful and moving. It touches my heart deeply. I don’t want to be like your parents, and I am doing my best. Thank you.

    • Avatar
      Jessica Donovan

      I love your comment. It touches me to my core. All my life, I always wanted to use my experiences for good. I finally found the guts to put it all out in the world and it’s helping others. Awareness and wanting change is half the battle. I wish you all the best and then some!

  10. Wow, I’m shocked and understand this point of few fully,ty so much for sharing! What a eye opener!

    • Avatar
      Jessica Donovan

      Thank you for taking the time to comment. It’s nice to know there are other who we can relate to in this world.

  11. Avatar
    Jessica Donovan

    Thank you both for taking the time to read and comment.

  12. Terrible beauty.

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