Another Year of Missing You..
Today is one of those days that you know is going to happen but you don’t look forward to its arrival. I’ve been waiting for those memories to pop on TimeHop each day so I could be mentally prepared to face it yet again. It’s a date on the calendar that stabs you a little more each year. Unlike your birthday or an anniversary, something that can bring joyous memories to mind, this date is one that I cautiously approach with reflection and mindfulness. I remember the night like it happened yesterday.
It’s been four years since I lost my father today, January 9th, to a short but intensive battle with cancer. Nothing can prepare you for the loss of a loved one, especially when you are the one not ready to let them go. I remember vividly the day we heard the word cancer, sitting in the hospital just days before Christmas and hoping he could just come back to our home. To escape the sterile environment, the last place we wanted to be during the holiday season and be back in our own sanctuary to process the news. I remember dad saying “this really sucks” and him apologizing over and over. It wasn’t his fault, it was nothing he did, it was just the cards he was dealt and yet he apologized over and over again to us.
I know that he was scared inside, I could see him fighting back the tears but he didn’t want to show that emotion to us. He had to be our rock, just as we were his. I tried not to cry, to be brave, to be strong so he would know that I would be with him every step of the way. I did what anyone would do in this situation, I searched the internet for answers that would be more hopeful than the thoughts that ran within my head. We didn’t know how quick this would overcome him or the reality that this could be our last holiday season with him.
As dad was released from the hospital and we brought him home, we came to know our new reality, wondering the what ifs, what the future would bring. Little did we know his time would come far too sooner than any of us had expected.
It seems like so much has happened since he’s been gone, because well, there has. Finishing grad school at Auburn, one of the last places we took a trip together. We searched around that small Southern town for my apartment and to check out the campus, just as we had years before in Philadelphia. I still can’t believe he was able to walk all over that city for miles on end. He loved my “sisters” and the fact that I was able to live in a big city and work with them everyday. From meeting David and moving to Clearwater, to celebrating our marriage and expanding our fur-family with two more little pups that I know would be snuggling on the couch with him during every visit. As they lay together wrapped up in a blanket I had made of his t-shirts, I know he is smiling at them and laughing at the little chunk Franklin has turned into.
But with all of those things that have happened since he left us, I know he’s been there watching it all. Through a coincidence, the sight of a cardinal, even the strong glowing flicker of a light bulb that has been dead for weeks- he checks in on me to let me know he’s okay and that he’s here, that I’ll be okay without him. He knows what’s been going on and he’s right there by my side. The night before our wedding I could overwhelmingly feel his presence, letting me know it was okay to be happy, to celebrate in joy. I know he would be best friends with David, they’d be at a car-show every weekend, tinkering with something in the garage, searching for classic cars for sale online. He’d absolutely love him.
I just wish I could call him everyday like I used to do, to hear his voice, to hear him say “Bubba” one more time. He was there whenever I needed anything. From a flat tire to props made for sorority lip-sync. During those selfish moments of wanting him back, I close my eyes and know that he’s without pain, without suffering and there with us no matter what.
So everyday I wake up and stand a little taller. I try to think of the positive in each situation and remember that each day is a gift. I think about the “what-ifs” all the time, but that doesn’t stop me from working hard to make sure I am making him proud and living out his legacy.
As you get older, treasure the relationships that you have. Love your family, tell your friends you love them. Pick up the phone every now and then. Live your life with purpose and create memories more than things.