Dad, you would have been 59 years old today. That fact alone just boggles my mind. What would you look like today? Would you have changed a lot over the course of the last 7 years? I know I have. It’s been a pretty tough week leading up to today. Well, really, who am I kidding? It’s been a rollercoaster of emotions for the past 7 years, but your birthday always hits my heart extra hard.
I know I’ve been angry and frustrated with you, but what I’ve never told anyone, maybe not even myself? Not a day goes by that I don’t wonder what life would be like if you were still here. Sometimes I wonder if there is another me – another version of my life – living in some alternate universe somewhere, a universe where you never got cancer, a universe where you never committed suicide, a universe where I wouldn’t know what it feels like to miss you so much that sometimes I don’t know what to do. And of course a universe where I wouldn’t have so much anger toward you. I hate that anger. I really do. I don’t want to be angry with you. I want to miss you. I want to remember those good times we had without the volcano of anger always bubbling up just below the surface.
I wonder what that would feel like. Every single day. And I sometimes wonder, too, what I’d say to you if I had the chance. Would I be able to keep that anger at bay long enough to say the things I really want to say? Things like, “Thank you for giving me the best childhood I could have ever asked for, despite my disability.” Things like, “Thank you for giving me the foundation for becoming such a strong woman and never giving me a single reason to doubt your love and faith in me.” Things like, “There are so many things you’ve missed, and so many things I wish you could have been here to see.”
Could I not say the things I don’t want to say but always feel? Things like how I can’t fathom how you could ever leave your family, the people you always loved more than anything in the world. Things like I sometimes hate it when the littlest things remind me of you, like a green field in the summer and how you’d let us play outside for hours, until the lightning bugs came out to play and the sky began transforming into hues of orange and pink. Things like you left me just when I felt like I needed you the most, a time when I was in college and needed your guidance on that road to adulthood. Now, it seems like it’s a road I’ve had to try to navigate on my own, without a road map. And you know what? I hate it. It never had to be this way. I didn’t want it to be this way. And I like to think that deep down, if you had only thought about it a little more, you wouldn’t have wanted it to be this way, either.
So I’ll try to smile when I remember you today. And I hope, wherever you are right now, that you’re smiling too. I hope you’re proud of the woman your little girl in that green field has grown up to be. I love you, Dad. xoxo