Sunday, November 26, 2017

Another year, without you.

Dear Dad,

It seems like I am forever writing the posts like this one on these days, the ones between Thanksgiving and your birthday.

These days always belonged to you. I don't know why I ever believed that would change once you were gone.

Your birthday is tomorrow. You would have been 65 years old. You would have insisted that you weren't 65 because 65 is old, and you weren't ever going to get old.

You were right, you know....you didn't get old. These days, though, I wish you'd had that chance.

65 never would have meant retirement for you, the consequence of having owned your own business your whole life. You always said you'd probably end up working until the day you died because you'd have to. There was no golden parachute waiting. No pension. Not enough Social Security to survive.

You were right about that too. You went in to the lab the day before you died. Wiped the counters down, tidied up the office, left notes with instructions for those left behind.

I wish you were here tomorrow. I wish you could share this 6 pack of Coors Light with me. I wish you could pretend to refuse the piece of cherry cheesecake that you'd inevitably eat. I wish you'd spend fifteen minutes insisting that you were still 21 years old. I wish you'd get annoyed when everyone started to sing, then let the tiniest hint of a smile out at the end.



I wish.

I wish you were still here. I wish you were here to see your oldest grandson finish his Eagle, I wish you were here to reassure me when he was having trouble healing after his wisdom tooth removal surgery this summer. I wish that you were here to see him eager and excited to begin his college journey soon. I wish it. I wish it for him and I wish it for you. I wish it for me. He needs you right now. He needs to be supported and loved and encouraged. He needs reassured that this thing he loves so much in the world is worthy and important. He needs to know that this path he is intending to walk down will be a rewarding one. He needs reminded that success in life isn't about how lucrative a career is, but about whether it brings him joy and helps others. He needs nudging. He needs to know that he can make a difference in the lives of other people. He needs you.

I wish you were still here. I wish you were here to see how much your oldest granddaughter has overcome this year. I wish that you knew how hard this year has been for her, and how proud I am of her for fighting to stay here. She needs you right now. She needs to know that there are people in her life who don't need questions answered before they love you. She needs to know that there aren't hesitations or reservations, that there are always people who will be there to hold you up. She needs to know that she is loved for who she is, not for who anyone else wants her to be. She needs to be accepted without labels or definitions. She needs you.

I wish you were still here. I wish you were here to watch my middle one transform this year. She was always the one you gravitated towards, the one that gravitated towards you. Your death was the hardest on her, I think, and I think it still is. She asks about you more than the rest. She's nearly as tall as I am these days, not that it's saying much. She joined the track team and ran hurdles this year. She kicked them a few times, crashing and burning on the ground, but she'd get up and hobble to the finish line. Then she'd get up and do it again. She runs them because you did. She shaved quite a bit of time off her triathlon pace this year, and somehow convinced the rest to join her next time. Oh, and she volunteered to play tuba in the band. It's nearly as big as she is. She needs you in the stands, in the audience, on the sidelines. She needs someone to wipe her tears and tell her she can do it. You were always my biggest cheerleader, and she could use you now. She needs you.

I wish you were still here. I wish you were here, sitting in the dinner theater this week when the curtain opens on the first night of the rest of your grandson's life. He was scared to show up to that first audition, afraid he wouldn't be able to read the lines, unsure of what to expect. And he nailed it. This kid, the one who was just a baby when you left, he's amazing. He struggles with so much stuff in this world, but you'd never know it. He's happy, he's mellow, he's giving, he's stubborn and determined to do the things he loves even when it is hard. He makes me so proud, and I can just imagine how proud of him you'd be. He needs to know that there is a place in the world for people who don't fit into the boxes others try and shove him into. He needs to know that it's okay to be different. He needs to know that his passion is important. He needs you.

I wish you were still here. I wish you'd had a chance to meet our last, the one we named after you. I wish that you could see how much better we are at this whole parenting thing this time around. I wish you knew how much he helped me heal, how complete we are with him here. I wish that you could see how much his siblings adore him, and how much he loves them all. I wish that he could grow up in a world where you existed, in a life that included you. I wish that you weren't just stories and pictures in books and on walls. I wish he could crawl up into your lap and insist he isn't tired as he nods off to sleep. He doesn't even know that he needs you, but he does.

It is hard for me to fight off the envy this time of year. I see so many people my age talking about losing their grandparents. Most of them still have at least one parent. The envy is ugly, and I try to push it away. Really, I do. It hurts.

And it's not fair. None of it is fair. I shouldn't have to be here without you. My kids shouldn't have to grow up without you. They shouldn't have to face their upcoming milestones without you here.

It's not fair.

Then again, you were the one who drilled this truth into my brain: life's not fair, and then you die.

And it's true. I just wish it wasn't.

My kids, they need you. I need you.

This year has been a hard one for me. Harder than anyone really understands. There are so many times I have wished you were here to talk to. You could be harsh and abrasive at times, but you always seemed to know when I needed reassured that everything would be okay. No matter what happened, I could always come home. I could always call. You would always help. I've needed that a lot lately, and living in a world without you here sucks.

My kids, they need you. I need you.

The closest they come these days to you is us. I hear your voice in my husband sometimes...especially when he walks through the house turning off all the lights, again. Or when he's teasing the older ones. Or when he talks a big game like a tough guy, then sends me text messages telling me that he's fallen in love with the school the oldest wants to attend.

I hear you in my words, when I'm telling the kids to "do it right or you'll do it twice". When I tell them to make good choices as I send them off into the world for the day. When I quietly tell the oldest one to ignore what everyone else says, that I believe in him. That I always have.

You always come up whenever there are strawberries in the house. You were with me last night when I brought home a fresh tree even though I swore we weren't getting one this year. You told me to get the good one even though it was a little bit more, because even if I hate Christmas sometimes, smelling a fresh tree instantly transports me to a world where I am a little girl again working the tree lot with you, watching you help dreams come true for other families.

I got the tree, Dad.

It's a hell of a tree.

I love you, Dad. I miss you a whole bunch, especially right now.

Happy birthday.

Love,
Kelly

1 comment:

  1. Happy birthday, Kelly's dad.

    Kelly, this was so so beautiful. I wish your dad were here for you and for your family. I wish my wishing so would make it so. Love to you, friend. xo

    ReplyDelete

Some of My Most Popular Posts