My dad died 2 days before his birthday. He kept telling everyone he wanted to make it to his birthday and I believed him. I kept thinking that he’d make it to Wednesday and then after that, whatever was to come would come. But he died on Monday, and I wasn’t ready. I was prepared for Wednesday. I was not prepared for Monday. My brain had to race to catch up with the shock and pain that mercilessly invaded my heart. I was pretty numb for a few hours until the shrieking inside my mind quieted and I faced the reality that my dad was now gone. It was a brutal jolt. The emotions that crashed into the wall I carefully pieced together to protect myself, was violently destroyed in an instant.

And so on his birthday, a day we would have celebrated with laughter and stories and German Chocolate cake and a delicious roast beef dinner, we instead gathered in a quiet softly lit room and gazed at his face as he lay motionless. He looked amazing! All the years of pain and sickness and hardship had been erased. So…peaceful. I couldn’t help but reach out to stroke his face and then recoiled my hand almost immediately as it touched a cold hard surface. Once again the reality of his absence struck its mark. Dad received a birthday card from his best friend in the mail that day. What a thoughtful gesture. I thought it was such a sad paradox that he left this world so close to the day he entered it. I couldn’t help but reflect on his birthday the previous year, surrounded by his family. We were all there. And he lowered the wall and came out of isolation and allowed us to enjoy him and love him. It was a wonderful time and one I look back on fondly. At his funeral the following day, the ladies who prepared refreshments also included a birthday cake for him. So intensely wonderfully bittersweet.

dad cake

In the aftermath of dad’s death, I find that I am acutely aware of time. The sixth day of the month, I consciously mark and remember the time, the day, as I go about my daily activities….I wonder when the moment will come that I don’t mark time passing in relation to my dad’s death. Will I be able to talk about him, think about him without my heart responding intensely with pangs of loss? I know as days turn into months and years, it will happen, but I also dread it as it means I am letting him go. I am fighting it. Even now as my parents would have celebrated their wedding anniversary last weekend, there is a small space deep in the recesses of my mind that hasn’t quite accepted his absence. Because he and I did not see each other with any sort of frequency, it is so easy to get lulled into the lie that he’s still here; and the irony is not lost on me that even though he had little impact on my life when he was alive, now after he is gone, I am fighting with every ounce of my being to keep him relevant in my thoughts and life. I am creating anniversaries in my mind to mourn him and to process our relationship. One month since dad died. Two months since dad died. This time of year always provokes a sense of dreaded anticipation in me. My school experience was not a positive one and I’ve never really lost that feeling like I’m a lamb headed to the slaughter house come the end of August. Dad loved this time of year. Sports! And so as September marks the beginning of his passions, football season especially, takes on special relevance. My son’s first football game is next week. Dad loved watching Lincoln play football and basketball. I started to send videos to him last year when he became too weak to attend the games in person. Another anniversary…another instant of time where his absence is powerfully felt. My delicate mind cannot even begin to formulate thoughts and emotions about Thanksgiving and Christmas yet. But they will come, whether I am ready for them or not. I cannot stop them and I will be forced to face the onslaught of overwhelming emotions that will inevitably invade my healing heart. And then they will pass, as time does, and another anniversary will be marked…

dad alpine

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