We are coming up on 2 important anniversaries. Tomorrow is the 1 year anniversary of my father’s death. I think about him every day, and miss him more than words can say. Fortunately, when I look back on my life, I have many special memories of our time together – riding in the car on road trips or just to his farm in Maryland, dancing to big band music at the officers’ club on a nearby military base, moving me into my college dorm, the smile on his face when I graduated, and the hug he gave me the last time I saw him. I am grateful for those. They usually bring a smile to my face, albeit often with tears in my eyes at the same time.
I know I am lucky to have had him in my life for 48 years. His life was a long, successful, happy one. He worked hard, provided well for his family, and loved me unconditionally. I know it is selfish to want him back, but I do. Even with the Alzheimer’s robbing him of his memory and his intelligence, I miss his gentle smile and warm eyes. But then I remember that several of my students over the past few years have lost fathers to cancer or heart attacks or other tragic causes, and I feel terrible for feeling so sad about my dad. At least he got to see me grow up. He got to know me as an adult. And I got to know him too. My loss isn’t easy, but it isn’t as tragic as these other men who were taken from their families, their daughters, too soon.
I know I will miss Dad every day, but I don’t want to go through the rest of my life as sad as I have been. The problem is that I don’t know how to miss him without feeling sadness too. I think I am afraid that if I let go of the sadness, it will feel like I don’t miss him enough. I try to focus on the fact that he would not have wanted to go on in his condition at the end. But it is still hard to let go and move forward.
Moving forward is what the 2nd anniversary is all about – Sunday will be my first wedding anniversary! I have mixed emotions about that too. Don’t get me wrong – I am beyond thrilled to have married the love of my life! It was a long time coming. I am just sad that it didn’t happen years before, when my dad was still able to travel and could have been there to give me a hug and to welcome Jeanne into the family as my wife.
Recently, I have become
obsessed fascinated with the idea of a medium being able to channel loved ones from the “other side”. I am beginning to believe that the spirits of those who have passed remain with us, sort of like guardian angels, hovering over and keeping tabs on what we are doing. The one positive thing I can hang on to about my dad passing away 3 days before our wedding is, as our Best Woman put it, that was the only way Dad could be at the wedding with us. It isn’t quite the same thing as if he had been there in body, but I do hope that he was there in spirit – and was as happy for us as we were for ourselves.