When you are grieving people say, “In time, it will get easier.” “In time, you will think of only the good and recall the memories with warmth and not pain.” These are all half-truths. Things have become easier, but they’ve also become harder. It is true, the sharp pains have gone. However, it is the long dull ache that remains. I long to be the same person I was before cancer took you. The person who laughed freely, who played practical jokes on my co-workers, the person who wasn’t so concerned about finding her purpose. Your death reminded me of how much purpose you can have in this life, and how much of a difference one person can make. Your death reminded me that life is too short, therefore I must find my purpose today. I miss the carefree me, but mainly I miss you.
Most days when I think of you I can remember your hugs and your whiskers lightly grazing my cheek. I felt so safe and loved when you wrapped me up in your arms. Dad, you loved me even when I felt most unlovable. I think of your humor and how your belly shook every time you laughed. You laughed often, and you made others laugh even more. You were fair and kind. Your way with words was a crafted art that could disarm the angriest of beasts.
Dad, I do think of all these beautiful things, but the memories of the day you left are etched in my brain as if it happened moments ago. These memories strike me at the oddest moments and grip my insides without mercy. It was five years ago today, the first worst day of my life happened. It was on that day I realized I am not immune from anything. The shelter and safety your embrace afforded me was gone. My glass house of happiness was shattered.
Every day I have struggled to build myself back up, to accept what I do not approve. I have had to consciously choose whether or not I want to be happy, happy without contingencies. This is harder than you think, choosing to be happy when life does not deliver what you want.
Dad, you were a great man, the greatest man I’ve ever known. I’m doing my best to raise a son who is your equal. You would be so proud. He is everything you would imagine he would be. You loved him deeply and he loved you just as much.
I remember the day you found out I was pregnant. You walked through the kitchen door after a long day at work and mom blurted out the news, “Jill’s pregnant.” I can still picture the palm of your hand slapping your forehead as your head dropped back and you let out an anguished sigh. I wasn’t married. I was attending college and still living with you. I was seven months pregnant.
You had two months to adjust to the idea of your 3rd child becoming a parent in less than desirable conditions. Yet, you and mom both adored your new grandchild the moment he was born. You loved him no less than any of your other grandchildren. I think of this today because your grandson is graduating soon. I know how happy you would be, standing in the stands to watch him graduate. And let's be honest, yell something embarrassing as he walked down the aisle.
It is a sad thing to accept you won’t be there in body. I can only find comfort knowing you are there in spirit. I find solace believing you would be so darn proud.
I’ve done my best, daddy. I’ve done my best to raise my son to be as wonderful as you.
I think I’ve done a pretty damn good job.
Missing you today and always.