September 7, 2015

Dear Dad

Filed under: Memory Eternal — Tags: , , , — Ann @ 9:40 am
Celebrating Dad in the 1970s

Celebrating Dad in the 1970s

Dear Dad – I didn’t forget your birthday yesterday. It was the first one without you. I was aware of it in so many ways, some trivial: at the card shop several weeks ago a thought formed, “First time I won’t be picking out a card for Dad.” Walking by my 2015 calendar, looking at the “Dad’s BD” and red heart that I drew in the box marked September 6, remembering my way back to January 1 when I painstakingly drew hearts on all my family’s birthdays, never dreaming you’d be gone less than two weeks later.

Then, yesterday morning, logging in to Facebook, the “one year ago today” algorithm flashed your smiling face, your unexpected face, and I swear my body went numb. I thought of posting a tribute to you right there on my Wall but I couldn’t picture myself writing, “First Dad birthday without my Dad,” and I couldn’t have borne up under friends’ responses, so loving, so empathetic. Too much hurt, still.

I called Mom, not just because I wanted to but because I knew you’d want me to. We talked about how we both still talk to you, in our different ways. She retains the privilege of the loving-tender wifely scold — “where on earth did you put that?” — and I’m more inclined to tell you how much I still need you.

The family didn’t get together yesterday as on previous September 6th “Dad’s Birthday” days, but no doubt each of us felt your absence, thought about birthdays past. I remember when you turned 64 and I printed off the lyrics to the Beatles song, handed them around and made everyone sing, “When I get older, losing my hair, many years from now…” I’m not sure it went over all that well but no regrets because every time that song pops up on my Pandora it means one more link to you in a chain that already stretches from my heart to heaven in infinite strands of love and remembrance.

September 6th is still and forever your birth-day and it can never be eclipsed by your death-day because what you gave us over a lifetime is so much greater than what can ever be taken away by your transition to spirit. You live on in countless ways. The children and their children and their children who make the annual trek to the family’s holy stomping grounds of Hat Creek and Mt. Lassen; the songs you loved that pop up on my Pandora (and I still hear you say, “Oh, that’s so pretty” whenever “Shenandoah” plays); the “Clark face” that pops up in family photos shared on Facebook. It’s you, Dad. All around us, everywhere, every day.

I’m not missing you any less today because it’s September 7th. And we still have Thanksgiving to get through without you and dear god in heaven: Christmas.

But yesterday, because it was your birthday, I pulled your memory a little closer to me, like a warm comforter protecting against a sudden chill. I will never stop celebrating you.

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