I've been thinking about you a lot lately. It always seems like this time of year makes me think about you more than I ordinarily would. Your birthday, the holidays, the drama.
The garbage disposal that always stopped working when there was a house full of people, like clockwork, and how you'd have to put in the very expected emergency call to the plumber, a family friend, and how he'd always end up eating just a little bit and taking some more home with him.
There are times that I wondered if you did that on purpose, you know.
I know that his life wasn't easy, that he never had enough to make the ends meet. I know that he wasn't a great plumber, but he was lucky to have a friend who always needed him in a pinch, then sent him home with something more than money.
He was lucky to have you.
We all were.
I miss you, but you already knew that.
This year has been a tough one. I'm hoping that you and Mom are together now and that whatever hurts were in the past are gone. I hope that all the rest of it has dissipated now and that the good is left. I hope she's finally at peace now.
I hope that I didn't let you down. I don't think I did. I don't think you would have ever asked me to do what I did, what I felt like I had to do. I think that you would have told me to walk away sooner than I did. I believe that to be true. I don't know, though, and that unknowing hurts.
I know that you wouldn't want us to feel like we failed you. Or her. Or anyone.
I try to push it away, really, I do.
This grief thing, it's hard. I see it now. I knew that you weren't in a good place when you lost your father. Your brother. Your mother. I understand it now. You spent so much time being the strong one, and I feel like you passed that on to me. I have to be strong because I just have to be. It's not worth discussing because there's nothing to talk about. It just is.
This week has been hard. It won't get easier. I know that.
I won't have the anxiety about waiting to catch you or Mom on the phone, of waiting for it to ring, of timing it right. I won't feel torn about where I should be anymore.
I'll just be.
I know that is all you ever wanted for me. To be fully present in my life, to live in the moment, to stop fussing over the past, to stop worrying about the future.
I'm here now, but without you.
And that's not fair.
Life never is. That lesson you tried so long to teach me, I've learned more now than ever.
When you came to visit us here, you spent so much time wandering around outside, staring at the sky, at the mountains. You told me that you hated that I moved away, but that you understood. You knew me so well, back then. Better than I even knew myself, I think.
Thank you for that.
Thank you for everything.
I'll be here this week, right where I should be. I'll be fully present and I won't feel any guilt anymore about where I'm not.
At some point, though, I'll talk a walk outside and stare at the sky, look towards the mountains, and say hello.
Happy Birthday, Dad.
I love you.
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