been 52, but instead he has been passed almost 2 years.
I got to thinking about his birthdays over the years and I wondered what his last birthday party would be like if he wasn’t battling his addictions of 35 years and was able to just enjoy it. The birthday parties of the past were anything like your typical parties where families gather to give gifts and eat cake. We did all those things for my Dad, but his mind was clouded and it impacted everything. My sister and I struggled over the years trying to figure out how to cope with the enormity of the situation that was my Dad. Sometimes we were able to be strong, but often times we broke down. Sometimes our Dad was a big part of our lives and sometimes there was silence so we could protect our
young hearts. My Dad’s battles at times became divisive to our families. We all had different ideas on how to handle him. But, his final 3 years we just tried our best to cope because I think we all knew on some level time wasn’t o our side.
That final birthday party my grandparents broke out the slides and projector. We saw my dad as a baby, a toddler and a teenager. I think it was a foreshadowing to some degree. We had traveled down his journey as a young person right then and there. I wanted to take it all in, but it was hard to do so, my Dad was so distracting. If this final birthday party had been different, I envision us laughing and tearing up at the slides. We would listen to Beatles and tell old stories. We would eat cheesecake and my Dad would get up to speak. He would end with telling my sisters and me how much he loved us. It would end with hugs and tears. If I knew it was the final party, I would have made every attempt to make those memories. If we knew it was his last party, he would be clear of mind, wanting to
take everything in.
I am now left with a very different set of emotions on February 8th. Instead of getting ready for that party I am making plans with my aunts and sisters to meet up at his gravesite. No one can give you an answer that sits right. Nothing makes the pain stop; it just aches instead with time. Sometimes
dull, sometimes, severe. …depends on the day, and obviously, the time of year. One of the reasons this day is especially hard is because I don’t have the recourse of just breaking down anymore. I can’t just throw myself in the fetal position of the floor and let the tears over take me. I can’t just lie in
bed all day sleeping away the pain with the covers up to my eyes. I can’t drink through it and make it all go away. I have to grieve, but I have to grieve while being a mom and while taking care of a family. This is a balance I haven’t quite mastered which is why I had an especially difficult morning at home with my husband and oldest son. I just wanted everyone to understand that mommy is going through something today, but you can’t quite rationalize that to a 3 year old.
I realized today that I am not quite as accepting of my father’s death as I thought I was. I thought I had some kind of peace with it, but as the day was going on, the moments that I couldn’t totally
focus on my grief were just flat out horrible. I felt peace at his gravesite, but only there. Maybe
it’s because I wasn’t prepared enough for this day. I didn’t get enough sleep to the days leading up to it, and I didn’t talk to anyone about it, so I thought this singular day would do all that. Truth is grief is a process for a reason. One day will never do.
The quote, “grief is like the ocean, it comes in waves, ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overflowing. All we can do is learn to swim.” So each year that comes and goes, I am trying my best to “learn how to swim.” But for right now, I am that
50th birthday party. The birthday party he deserved, the birthday party that could have been perfect.
It’s white, crisp, angelic, whimsical. I’ll have flowers in my hair and the look of happiness to know my Dad was soldier in a war of 35 years and in that moment, at that party he did actually win the war.
Rest in peace Dad. 2/8/62-3/8/12