Today would have been my Dad’s 54th birthday.
Sometimes I think birthdays are the hardest days. This day is supposed to be all about him.
In my house, we never celebrated birthdays, as they were ‘just another day,’ and ‘overly marketed by corporations to sell things you don’t really need.’
Since he died, all I want to do is celebrate his birthday.
Go back in time, and give him some great birthday parties to remember.
Go buy him a really awesome laser scope or rain meter or something weird that only he could enjoy. Something to make him feel like he was remembered and special and show him how much he meant to me.
But we never had one of those birthdays for him, and we never will.
I think that’s the saddest part of all.
Even studying grief and death…it doesn’t make it any easier. It just gives you tools to better cope. I still find myself having the instinct and thought to give him a call sometimes and tell him something ridiculous–and then when I remember I can’t…
I lay in bed at night sometimes and all I can see is him laying lifeless and cold in a wooden box.
And the boots on his feet.
The boots he built his dream home with.
He had more plans for those boots.
When I look at my son I sometimes think how proud my Dad would be of him. How much he would absolutely love to get a warm little hug or see him walk and talk and experience new things.
Sometimes I manage to forget for a while, and then it all comes back even more vividly than before. You think you’re okay and that you’ve ‘moved on,’ but you haven’t and you never really will.
When someone you love dies, everything changes. Literally every single aspect of your life and mentality has changed forever. You will never be the same person again.
It’s like when the loved one leaves this world, they leave these little pieces of themselves behind for everyone that loved them. They stick to us and envelop us and help us along our own paths.
Sometimes it’s easy to celebrate life, make him proud, and be the most amazing person I can be.
Sometimes I get weak and sad and angry and don’t see the meaning of it at all.
But then I remember something he said to me when he was dying.
“No regrets, kid. No regrets.”
It’s hard not to live in the past and it’s even harder on days like today to keep your head up and simply move forward.
But that’s what he did. All the time.
I cry sometimes. I get angry sometimes.
I feel guilty for NOT feeling sad or angry enough sometimes.
It will be this way for a long time, this I know.
All I can do is follow the path his death has sent me on and try to be the best person I can be in the time I have here on this Earth. All I can do is try and live with no regrets.
So this year for your birthday, Dad, my present to you is a promise to live with no regrets–NOT reckless abandon, but an honest, good-hearted, kind and compassionate, learning, intelligent, regret-less life.
Instead of regrets, I will have lessons and learning experiences. I promise to take those experiences to heart, and not to waste any time on meaningless emotions and actions.
I promise to appreciate those around me, tell them I love them, earn and give respect.
I promise to make you proud and give the memories I was able to share with you to my son.
I promise to LIVE.
That’s what my Dad taught me.
I understand now, Dad. I understand so much more.
"Sundays too my father got up early and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold, then with cracked hands that ached from labor in the weekday weather made banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him. I'd wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking. When the rooms were warm, he'd call, and slowly I would rise and dress, fearing the chronic angers of that house, Speaking indifferently to him, who had driven out the cold and polished my good shoes as well. What did I know, what did I know of love's austere and lonely offices?" -- Those Winter Sundays Robert Hayden