Today my dad would be 65. It’s been 13 years now since one stormy day, four months after he died, when my brother, my dad’s wife, and I let my dad’s ashes loose on the ocean, the crashing waves melding with my sobs of grief, the wind and rain whipping wildly about, mixing with my tears, blowing remnants of my dad’s remains into my hair and onto my wet skin and clothes, and in that way I carried a part of him with me for the rest of the day.
I still miss him terribly – more keenly at some times than others. When I find myself feeling low and in some way alone and, yes, like a little girl, unloved, I miss him the most. He was so flawed and dysfunctional for all the years I was growing up, but in my adulthood, although he never overcame the demons that would eventually cause his demise, he became my greatest champion, always seeing the best in me, always there with a word of encouragement and understanding, always expressing his pride in having me – me – for a daughter. So, it’s a selfish longing, a longing for that acceptance that he gave me.
I don’t believe in heaven or hell. I believe the only afterlife there is is how we live on in other people’s memories. And so I try to keep my dad alive in my memory, by honoring him every year on his birthday, and every year on the anniversary of his death, and in between by often thinking of him, remembering him, wondering what he might think of me and my life and my family now were he still here, and looking for pieces of him in my children.
Happy birthday, Dad. I miss you.