November 28th. This is my father’s birthday. That was the very first thought that came to mind when my alarm jarred me awake at 3:45am this morning. Dad would have been turning 64, and man oh man, is he is dearly missed. We know he is in a better place, he wouldn’t want to be here still and be sick, and I can say that this date will forever hold deep meaning for me. I adore what my sister so lovingly posted online this morning; “happy birthday Dad, I hope you are golfing”. I bet he has gotten in a lot of rounds since he left, explored many greens. Tomorrow will, after all, mark exactly 6 months since we lost him. November 29th. Two very different anniversaries, back-to-back, each with their own slew of mixed emotion.
REWIND: Last year about this time, we threw an “open house” in honour of my pops, celebrating his life with friends and family, and all the apple pie you could eat (pie was my Dad’s fave desert for as long as I can remember; although when asked if he wanted cake or pie if given the option, his answer was always simply “YES”). Anyway, the party was nice. There were some hard truths to face, a few tough moments, but lots of laughter and reflection and love. Age 63 is not usually an occasion to be formally celebrated with a big shindig, but I think my family knew that it was to be one of Dad’s last.
That’s me and dad on birthday open house day. He was having a hoot!
I called my mother as soon as I knew she’d be up today. I wanted to tell her I love her, and I wanted to wish daddy a happy birthday; if he was alive I'd have called, so I was just keeping with tradition. I knew it was going to be a tough day for her; she sounded low; her voice weaker than usual. She plans on marking the day by heading up to a meeting at the ALS support centre she utilized regularly while my Dad was alive, cake in hand. She will toast to dad’s life with other folks who share her pain about the terrible illness, and can relate to her sorrow surrounding a very premature loss of a loved one. I think that’s great. Even though mom’s trip down the Lou Gehrig’s disease trail is now over, she continues to support and help educate those who are just beginning, or drawing to a close, their own journeys.
It is so strange living without my father. Every day, I am reminded at least once that he is gone and that there are so many events that I am going to miss having him around for, moments I won't get the chance to share and celebrate with him. I am sure mom feels the same, but I bet she also just misses the simple everyday stuff; waking up side by side, sharing decaf coffee over the morning news, having that person there to help latch a bracelet, a kiss goodnight every evening…
The pain is just so tremendous and I don’t expect that to fade anytime soon. Someone said to me when we lost dad back in May, “the moment your father died, your reality, your universe, was completely altered.” This person said that I would be forever changed, a different person. That is so entirely and absolutely true.
I miss you Dad, happy birthday to you, and I love you so damn much.