It was your birthday yesterday, and I had to skip writing you a letter because my eyeballs were square from working most of the weekend and spending a tonne of time poring my strength into words for other people.
But, today, as I sit here on the precipice of my tether, with minimal sleep, a furrowed forehead and well, really, what else can I do today, except write to you?
You’d have turned 81 yesterday, and I ponder at the gigantic nature of that number. It seems ginormous and almost unattainable to me. Yet, I do know people who have gone far beyond 81.
This month has been difficult for me. It’s felt like an obstacle barrage, never mind a course. But, there is sunshine in the spots where I know I can go to. There is peace in the places that I have come to rely on. And, Dad, I know I can rely on, and not in that half-a-toe-in-maybe-I-might-have-to-escape-them-one-day way.
But, as is the way with this time of year and me, I know it’s coming. I thought I’d been able to skip past it at one point, but then it all really came at me like an arrow. So, I plod on.
By the way, I’m done complaining now.
Do you remember how you used to hang on to this photo? I remember having to rush off and get a copy made at the office, so you could keep the original by you, all the time.
I wanted to say thank you for that. I don’t think I did at the time and, in the hurly burly chaos of everything that came afterwards, I don’t think I really got to the chance to. We were lucky, you and I, because we got to spend all that time together, and you even came with me for one of my final scans (having everything happen in the same hospital works, hey?). I loved that we got that time together, especially because we both knew (and aptly avoided talking about…) that we wouldn’t get the time after.
What it did, Dad, was imbue a sense of you into the after. Yes, genetically, that happens anyway, but it has served to create a bond that can’t be seen. Your name will come up in conversation and your grandchild #1 will say “you know, he used to help people” or “yes, he had very tough hair” or (my personal favourite) “my mom says he used to eat her toes” (I’ve long since been able to convince her that you never actually chewed on them, although, for a while there, she did think that toes could be eaten and would grow back).
My point, Dad, is that you’re not here. I can miss you, write to you and wish for you, but none of that will change the fact that I cannot call you up and bore you with one of my stories, or make you eat 25 servings of macaroni cheese, just to be funny.
But I can, and do, still find you.
Dadadadad, happy birthday. I hope the whiskey was fab and the dancing girls (family joke) limber.