Dear Dad: Happy Birthday
I have been dreading this week for a year now. Last year on your birthday, I was with you in the hospital after your surgery. I bought you dental floss and disposable razors and deodorant from the gift shop because that’s what you wanted. I splurged on a Happy Birthday balloon, but you sent it to the hotel with us because it was too noisy (you’re lucky I didn’t get the one that played music).
In those moments in the hospital with you, I remember feeling so grateful, knowing it would be the last of your birthdays we would celebrate together.
Your birthday this year will be the hardest of the hard days for me. It was always exciting when August 7th rolled around, because it meant my birthday was only six days away. And we always got to share birthday cakes down the shore. When I was little, I always wanted an ice cream meringue pie, just like you.
I have always loved being almost-birthday-buddies and this year is no exception. It’s just making my own birthday so, incredibly bittersweet.
While we were in Connecticut a week or so ago, I shoved my head in your button-down shirts that are still hanging in the closet. It felt like a big hug and I just smelled you in and remembered what your hugs felt like. I could hear your laugh and see that sparkle in your eye.
I miss you dad. As I’m writing, I’ve got big old elephant tears rolling down my face with a lump in my throat and a pit in my stomach. I know that missing you won’t ever be easy, but I also know that it is important for me to grieve and heal and remember the best moments. I bet you’re having an awesome first birthday in Heaven 🙂
Man, I wish you could see Caleb these days. He makes some faces that remind me of you (see photo above) and gets lost in thought, solving the world’s problems, just like you would. It’s scary how much influence you have had in his little life without ever meeting him; when he sees your picture, he smiles at his long-lost friend, Grandpa Mike.
Happy Birthday to the man who always pushed me to achieve more and work harder, but never take things too seriously. Thanks for your encouragement in school, work, marriage, weight-loss, and faith. Your example is one that has changed my life forever. It’s so hard not to miss you like crazy every moment of the day.
This song came up on my phone the other day and it felt like a gift. The lyrics hit me right in that place where my grief lives:
Blue has never been bluer / True has never been truer / Honey never tasted so sweet / There’s a song in the breeze / A million voices in praise / A rose has never smelled redder / The sun has never been brighter / If I could find the right words to say / If you could look at my face / If you could just see this place / You wouldn’t cry for me today
What you think you see / Isn’t really me / I’m already home / You’ve got to lay it down / ‘Cause Jesus holds me now / And I am not alone / Your faith is wearing thin / But I am watching Him / And He’s holding you, too
Loving you, always, and can’t wait to meet up with you someday,
“You Wouldn’t Cry (Andrew’s Song)” by Mandisa: