4 Years

Facebook reminded me that it’s four years tomorrow since my father died.

Amongst the memories of sunsets, flowers, dog and kid pictures is a photo of my Dad. The one we used in his obituary. I catch my breath every time I see it. I remember taking the picture. I remember it was Father’s Day. I remember we knew he was sick and that we needed to squeeze every last memory we could out of the days we had with him. I remember telling him that this was his Father’s Day gift, photos of him with all his grandkids. I remember knowing I was lying to him because the photos were for us. Cancer has a way of destroying the memory of how your loved one looks. It lays waste to the body and forever imprints in your mind how hard they are trying to fight, and yet, losing.

DAD 2015

He didn’t look like that yet. It was coming. But on this day, he still looked like Dad.

So as the fourth year rolls around, part of me feels guilty because I haven’t been feeling as heavy as I have other years. From the beginning of June I start to dread the 6th. It’s the first of a two-part whammy because his birthday is on the 9th. I’m more emotional and sentimental. Not this June. Life has been stupid, crazy, busy and I find myself facing the eve of this anniversary and it starts to sink in…I’m not heavy. I’m used to this pain at this time of year.

I feel guilty that I don’t feel that way. I wonder what it means.

Second Born Son got his full licence on Monday. As I think about it, I’m struck by the thought that the world I’m living in now is moving so much farther away from the one my father lived in. He kicked me out of his hospital room to apply for the job I now have. The one I’ve excelled in and worked so hard at. I was told I had the job two days after his funeral. So many times I’ve thought, “He’d love to hear this story” regarding something that happened at work. First Born Son is in the working world. He was in high school when Dad died. He didn’t even know if he wanted to go to college. FBS now has his dream truck, his life planned out and graduated college. SBS has one year left of high school and will be going to college. He’s as tall as his 6’4 brother and is going to be a heartbreaker. He was in Grade 8 when my father died. He didn’t get to see FBS or SBS graduate into high school because of his illness. We are making changes in our life that we never thought of when he was here. In some ways I think he’d be lost if he came back and saw where all of us were today.

We moved on. Without him. It feels wrong.

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I still cry. Usually it’s a song or a photo. Something that hits an emotion. Music and memories get me. I spent his last night on earth bunking with him in his hospital room. Neither of us slept much.

I still dream about him. One just a few weeks ago that was so real I didn’t even take much notice that he was in the dream. It was so natural to be talking about the dogs with him in this dream, just watching them bounce around. He was there, petting them, commenting on how big Cane was, how sucky Roman was. Dad never met Cane since he wasn’t born until a couple years later. Dad loved dogs. I woke up from that dream and was absolutely convinced the conversation had taken place. He was THERE.

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Maybe that’s how I’m supposed to look at theses years moving away from my father’s life. He’s not HERE but he’s here. He knows what’s going on. He would love the Jeep. He would be absolutely stoked about the renovation. He would be singing the praises of FBS working toward his dreams and would be congratulating SBS on his licence and upcoming prom. He would be thrilled to see what I do for work.

It doesn’t make June 6 any easier. It just means the wound isn’t throbbing any more. It’s a scar.

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3 Years

Hard to believe it’s been three years.

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In some ways, we talk about you enough that it seems like you are still here. In others, it’s downright painful to see how much you’ve missed. Like yesterday. I know how proud you would have been about First Born Son’s graduation. You would have loved how he dominated his course. How he landed a job months before he graduated. How he bought a truck that you would have fallen in love with.

You would be delighted to see the growth in Second Born Son; literally and figuratively. He’s taller than his father and will soon look down on his brother. He is making decisions about his life that would astound you, as it does us. He reminds us of you.

In some ways, year three has been a bit easier. We don’t look at holidays like the top of the big hill on a roller coaster; unavoidable and rather unsettling. We’ve got some new ways of doing things. Little Sister is living at your home with her family. They are doing amazing things with the property, including looking at organic farming down the road. I can hear you saying they are crazy and then in the same breath, saying that’s what you would have liked to have done. Mom is settled in a new home. It’s perfect for her. She’s walking, close to the library and doesn’t have to weed gardens, so she’s got it made.

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But there are STILL days when a certain song comes on, and you never know which song that will be, that you find you stop singing along because you can’t breathe. Tears and a tight throat prevent you from enjoying it. Instantly transported to a time when you were dancing it it in the family room.

The hard days are farther apart. But they’re not gone. In a way, we don’t want them to be, because they remind us of you. I’ve heard that there is a need to grieve. “You need to grieve.” “You still haven’t grieved.” I don’t know what that means. I do know that being at your grave isn’t where I feel closest to you.

Know that we are missing you, remembering you, and hoping you are having fun with all the dogs in heaven.

 

Full Circle Moment

Once upon a time, a little boy invited all his friends in his neighbourhood to come to his house on his birthday. The date was set and his friends promised to come.

The day of the event rolled around. All of the children from the neighbourhood arrived at the allotted time, dressed for a party with gifts in hand.

The only problem was, it wasn’t the little boy’s birthday at all. And he hadn’t told his parents about his guests. His mother, mortified, sent the children home. With their presents.

This took place approximately 70 years ago.

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Last week, First Born Son came home told and told me about a conversation he had with the young son of a family friend. His birthday was coming up and he wanted to invite FBS to his party.

“You can bring your Mom too!” he stated, and FBS recounted with a laugh.

Touched by the young man’s thoughtfulness, and chuckling over his precociousness, I headed out to find the perfect gift. Two John Deere T shirts for a “hard working” young man.

Although FBS couldn’t join me due to his work schedule, I took the gift to the wee lad’s house. There was no party. His parents weren’t even home from work. His grandmother, who is a caregiver for him and his older sister, was taken aback to when she came to the door. The boy and his sister were delighted to see me, and he gleefully took the gift and shredded the colourful paper. The grandmother sputtered appreciation for the gift, how kind the gesture was, how unexpected, how her daughter and son-in-law would be surprised to learn their son, the birthday boy, had made such a bold invitation.

This boy’s birthday was June 10.

The first story is about my father. His birthday was June 9.

The only thing more striking is the resemblance between this little boy and his grandson at the same age.

The only thing more striking is the resemblance between this little boy and his grandson at the same age.

Although it’s been two years since he passed, I found it somewhat comforting that this story, that he told us many times, came to me in the moment that I realized that I was invited to a party that wasn’t happening; for a young man who just wanted to have some people over to celebrate.

Happy Birthday Duddy!

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1st Anniversary – Dad

DAD 2015

People say the first year is the hardest.

They say that you missed Father’s Day, our birthdays,

Your wedding anniversary, Thanksgiving.

People may feel badly that you weren’t in your chair at Christmas,

Missed out on New Year’s celebrations.

That you were absent for Valentine’s Day and Easter.

What they don’t realize is, that you are the reason we celebrate Father’s Day,

You are with us when we sing Happy Birthday,

Your anniversary is marked regardless, and we are Thankful in October.

That you are as much a part of Christmas as you ever were,

And New Year’s marks another year of loving you.

We see you in Valentine’s and Easter’s flowers.

What people don’t understand is that you are with us –

When we hear your favorite songs,

When we see you in photos,

When we snuggle in your old sweaters.

They couldn’t possibly know that you are all around us when we are in the bush,

Sitting around a fire pit,

Swimming.

You are with each one of us; alive in our hearts, present when we are together,

And Loved as much as ever.

~ From All of Us