Sunday, August 28, 2011

Two years

This weekend was the 2 year anniversary of my father's death. I have been fully aware of it, the dreaded date, that it was approaching. I am not an overly sentimental person, but there is something about my dad's birthday, Father's Day and the anniversary of his passing that just get me. I try to forget it, to remind myself that its just another day, but I still woke up in a bad mood and shed a few tears before even getting out of bed. Luckily we had a lot of fun things planned for the day, to keep me occupied and my BFF remembered and called me and that felt good too.

Most of the time I am okay. I remember in the days after he died, I wondered if I would feel true happiness and laughter again and how long it would take for me to not feel distracted by grief. But as time goes on, its true that it becomes easier and normalcy returns. Most days I don't think about the loss, but I definitely think about Dad, often in a happy way--like he would love this or he would think this is so funny. But then out of nowhere, something seemingly innocuous happens and bam--I am bawling my eyes out. Like when Amalah was pregnant and her father lost his battle with cancer. I regularly read her blog because she is so darn witty and funny and then I read those posts and her writing is so beautiful and poignant and wow, it was like re-living those final days all over again, except that she was actually there, with her dad and I was not.

In these two years, sadness and pain have given way to remembering the good memories, especially my dad's super hilarious sense of humor. Dad loved to laugh. Dad had this key chain, from one of those goofy novelty stores, called the Fart Master. It has sound effects for various toots like the Power, the Nervous, the Ripper, the Cough-Fart. You don't get the full effect unless you hear it in person. Its totally in bad taste, but it would make him laugh every time. My stepmom gave it to Lana (per Lana's request), so now we own our very own Fart Master key chain. What a legacy! He would think its funny that we are playing with the Fart Master, laughing away, thinking of him.

My stepmom also forwarded some photo albums from Dad's childhood and some really interesting artifacts from my paternal grandparents including recipes from the candy store my grandfather ran years ago. These recipes are hand written in a tiny black book and date back to the 1940s or 50s. Crazy cool stuff.

It's hard for me to look at the photos of Dad and I together. It just highlights the relationship that I miss. I can't believe it has been two years since I have talked to him, heard his voice, swapped a recipe. The biggest dagger to the heart though is that he was so excited to be a grandpa and he loved Lana so much, even though he didn't see her that often, but he died 31 days before Lacey was born. I wish he could have met Lacey, held her, watched her grow just a little bit. I knew this cancer would take his life, but I was hoping and praying for a year or two. Lacey is so much like my dad--she is a cuddler, she is funny and a little quiet, she has his long narrow feet. He would have just adored her! Lana claims to remember her grandpa, even though the last time she saw him she wasn't even 3. We talk about him a lot, things he used to say, things he loved. He loved being a grandpa. Loved it.

The other thing that continues to plague me, two years later is regret. I have regret--loads of it. When someone gets diagnosed with cancer, even if the prognosis is grim, doctors advise the patient to have a positive outlook--you have to have hope that you can beat it and win. There is plenty of research that shows that attitude makes a difference. I always tried to put a positive spin on things, even when there didn't seem to be any good news. We all tried to lift his spirits, tell him his fight would be worth it, that there was only one more round of chemo left and he could get a break. I know this was the right thing to do at the time, but I can't help feeling like I didn't get to really talk to him about his life, our life. I never thanked him for being a great father. I wish I would have visited him once a month, even though he was on the other side of the country because when a person is gone, they are gone forever and I should have just done it, despite the distance and cost. I also regret not being there for his final few days. Yes I was 36 weeks pregnant, but I wish now that I was there, like Amalah was, to hold his hand and have that conversation. I know he would have wanted me to keep Lacey safe in my belly and not travel, but I don't know if that feeling of regret will ever leave me.

My dad was a wonderful father. The best kind of dad that always loves you and supports you. He was never critical and I can't even remember one instance where he raised his voice. It has become clear to me, more than ever recently, that not everyone is blessed to have this kind of father. I just wish he was still here because I have so much I would have loved to share with him.


A. said...

Lovely post honoring your dad's memory. And an important reminder to cherish the people in your life while you can. Thanks.

Janna said...

I'm so sorry for your loss Julie. Missing someone sucks. And anniversaries are especially hard. Thinking of you, Janna

Maria said...

Oh, Julie- this is beautiful and heart wrenching all at the same time. Your Dad sounds wonderful, and I cannot imagine what it must be like for you. Try not to regret, you did the best thing you knew how to do at the time, and thus is all we can ask of ourselves. Will's Dad passed away when Maya was 2.5 and she still talks about him regularly and sleeps with a picture of him in a pillow every night. I believe she really does remember him, and I'm sure Lana remembers your Dad, too. What a beattiful gift to have had such an amazing person shape your life. He will shape your girls too, because of you. Hugs to you, my friend.

Megan said...

Hey Julie- this is a lovely post. Everytime you write about your dad you give us a gift. In honoring him but also helping us who read about remember how important it is to "be there" with our own children, our own parents. And that is truly a legacy! Thank you for this and big hugs from the East Coast!