Remembering My Dad One Year Later
While I'm absolutely looking forward to the "unofficial" start of summer this weekend, this Memorial Day Weekend will be a tough one for me and my family.
On Saturday it'll be one year since I lost my Dad to liver cancer. He was only 66. Last May was a blur honestly. My father was diagnosed and passed away a little over three weeks later.
I was told about how "the firsts" would be difficult. The first Father's Day, the first Christmas, the first year that I wouldn't buy a birthday card for my Dad. These events were hard, but the anticipation of them was worse.
When I visit my Mom I still expect to see him in his chair watching Seinfeld. I still expect to see him gardening in the backyard or floating in the pool. I have a feeling that will never go away. I know it sounds crazy, but sometimes I forget he's gone. When reality sets back in I get the same shocking punch to the gut that I got when I learned of his diagnosis.
Anyone who knows me knows a lot about my Dad because I bragged about him all the time. He was a very successful hospital administrator for most of his career. When he would have a special accomplishment, I would tell anyone who would listen.
He was my Dad. He was my family's protector. He was a loyal friend and kind-hearted soul. He was generous to all and enjoyed seeing other people happy. His complexities are what made him unique and so interesting. I will likely never meet a wiser person. When you come right down to it, my Dad was the man.
I always worry that I'm going to forget him, or particular aspects of his life. I guess that's all just part of the process. In reality, part of my Dad is with me every day.
That is my Dad's fingerprint. His initials are on the other side of the silver. My Mom and brother all have one.
My Dad was an avid photographer, and very good at it. When my Brother was younger, my Dad took him to New York for an adventure. They walked everywhere, including over the Brooklyn Bridge. My Dad let him take the lead so he could snap a special shot of my Bro crossing the bridge. Thanks to the amazing talents of an artist, my Brother got his first tattoo. It's an amazing tribute and captures my Dad perfectly.
At the bottom of the tattoo, that is my Dad's handwriting from a card that my Brother saved. I can still hear my Dad saying "love you, kid." I never said goodbye without hearing that from him. Not once.
It's taken me nearly a year to realize that there is no by-the-book way to grieve. You feel how you feel. I thought that you mourned for "x" amount of weeks or months and then moved on. When you lose a loved one it's different. I also realized that the excruciating pain that I feel over this loss is universal. Everyone eventually feels it.
Cherish the time you have with your family. Realize that they are the most important thing in the entire world. Tell them you love them, then tell them again.