Most days since his passing I have done my very best to live life, embrace my wonderful memories, and not let the feelings of loss overwhelm my feelings of joy. Today was not one of those days.
In addition to being my dad’s birthday, it also happened to be the funeral and celebration of life for a family friend. He lived across the street from us growing up and was a beloved man of the neighborhood. He was friends with my dad and I was friends with his daughters.
On occasion my dad drove the four of us girls to high school in the morning. My dad would pull up to the busy drop off area where all the kids were unloading from the school buses. He'd slide open the van door and yell, “Now GET OUT and NEVER DO THAT AGAIN!!!” It was embarrassing for Kimmy and I, but mortifying for our two friends.
Their dad, although a bit of a jokester himself, always greeted us with a smile whenever we came over for a playdate. While playing in their basement, he served us the most delicious handmade crepes I’d ever tasted. I have thought about those crepes many times over the years.
Today, I sat in the pews of the Catholic Church with tears streaming down my face. I watched his family walk in a procession behind the casket, and my heart ached for their loss in ways I have trouble articulating. I can only say I felt their loss, my loss, our loss within the deepest part of my soul.
As I was leaving the church I saw my dad’s best friend who was also there to pay his respects to their dear neighborhood friend. The loss felt profound. We both felt it. I cried more than I’ve cried in months. My dad's friend held my hand and gave me a hug as we let the loss wash over us.
I was missing my dad. He was missing his friends.
In the priest's homily today, he said we will see our loved ones again. He said it is through our memories and our joy we remain connected. This belief gives me me the strength and comfort I need to focus on life, and not loss.
But some days there is sorrow. Some days we weep. Everyday I miss my daddy's hug.
Today is my dad’s birthday. Yet, I feel like it was my dad who gave ME a gift. The embrace I received from his dear friend felt like the closest thing to a hug from my own dad. It was the best hug I've received in a very long time.
Grieving, yet always grateful.