Has it only been three years?
Has it already been three years?
So much has happened that it has to have been that long since the last time he was with us, since the morning we spent around his bed, holding his hand, waiting, watching. So much that it must have been that long or longer even.
In some ways it seems like decades have passed.
In others, it seems like he was just here.
This is the first time that this day has arrived when my mind hasn't been occupied somewhere else, worrying about her, my mother, nervously wondering how she would cope with it all this time around. The first time without the phone calls and messages left and awkward exchanges and wondering if she really was okay and her never being even a little bit concerned about me and her minimizing whatever I was feeling because she always felt more, hurt more, needed more.
This is the first time that I can grieve for me.
Without the distractions.
Without being worried about someone else.
Without being told that my grief wasn't big enough.
It's calming, actually, this place that I am in now.
It still hurts, but the edges of the pain are dulled a bit. The memories come now and they wash over me and leave me with a smile on my face rather than the heartache they used to leave behind.
I have learned a lot on this journey through life without him. He taught me so many lessons, some of which I did not even realize at the time. Some of them are still coming back to me now, all these years later, like the one about spilling the milk.
He taught me to be strong, to be resilient. He taught me to speak my mind, to lay out my arguments so well that people couldn't find the holes in them. He taught me to love music, to love the time I spend behind the wheel in the car, to love with my whole heart. He was the first to call me a writer, and I know he'd be prouder of me right now than anyone else could ever be.
I miss him. I miss him every day.
As I begin a new journey in my life, a familiar one, but one that I'm embarking on this time without him, my heart aches.
It hurts for all the things he won't be here to see, for all the moments without him. It hurts for the times he won't share with us.
Then a part of me knows that he is still with us.
He lets me know from time to time.
I have a feeling I'll be seeing a lot of him in the coming years.
I will welcome those moments. I will drink them in when they come. I will let the memories in, I will learn the lessons, I will be grateful for the chance to have been his little girl.
I miss you, Dad.
I love you.
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