My dad’s birthday

I’m not sure how to celebrate. I miss him.

This time, two years and a lifetime ago, he was probably close to beginning hospice. I remember he was able to come in my house one last time on his birthday, or just after. My mom had brought roses. I still have the roses, in a box.

It’s almost two years since he died.

This morning the triggers have been fast and hard. I was invited to a neurooncology seminar. My husband mentioned lymphoma. I met a woman who used to ride the subway with me and my dad. She remarked on the special subway-riding trick he taught me, and I taught her–exactly where to board so that when you exited, the train deposited you right near the escalator, and you didn’t have to push through a crowd. I had a work event at the convention center where I’d given a talk once and he’d dropped me off, before things all went wrong.

I visited a bunch of brain tumor sites again. I shouldn’t have. It brought back a bunch of really bad memories.

If he had just lived a year or two, he’d have seen both my children. But I guess in a way it’s merciful that it happened fast. I don’t know how I’d have lived for years with the knowledge that his days were numbered but that the number hadn’t come up yet. I guess all our days are numbered, but it’s really different when you know the number.

I miss my dad. There is a constant ache in my heart and he’s always on my mind. What I’d give to have a day with him; a day where we could chat, where he could tell me what it felt like to be diagnosed, what it was like to get the chemo, what it felt like once he knew (assuming he knew) that he was going to die. He lost his speech, memory, and communication abilities on diagnosis, so I never knew. If I had just one day with my dad, I could show him my daughter and son. They could interact with him as a human being and not as a set of photos. For a long time I was almost better, but somehow for the last few days the grief and pain have been unbearable again, and the fear for my own future and what may lie in it…more illness for myself and loved ones, more loss, more pain. I keep thinking how I’ll be 40 in the next few years; that if I go when my dad went, the midpoint of my life is in the past. I wonder where my youth went.

The loss of my dad changed me…the first half of my life was mostly about gaining things: Degrees, relationships, jobs, kids. Now I feel like the descent has begun.

But anyway, when you remember bad events, the memory isn’t quite as sharp as living the event itself. That’s how it’s better. And it is better.

Dad, I miss you. I’m hoping against hope that you still exist somehow in more than my memory, and that someday when my time comes, we can be together again in some more meaningful way than both being stardust that has gone back to the stars, or whatnot.

All my love, and my babies. They recognize you from your photos.

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