It was exactly one year ago today, a Friday, such a beautiful day that was full of the promise of Spring. Two phone calls came from Mom that afternoon, like bookends that framed the worst thing ever to happen to me. We always say we love each other at the end of calls, and in that first call, she abruptly said "I'll talk to you later" and then she said "All you alright? Are you sick?" and the line disconnected. I noticed the abruptness, but life can be busy, so I went on, though I worried that Dad wasn't feeling well. I decided to call Mom back in an hour or so and check in. The next call was a short while later from her, telling me that Dad had collapsed, was on his way to the hospital, and to prepare myself because it didn't look good. I realized the words I heard Mom say at the end of the first call marked the last moment of his life.
Every day I want to call him and tell him something. Every day, I think of something he would have found funny or amazing or wonderful. I think often of how happy he would be for every good thing that happens for anyone in our family. Missing him is hard, and I know it always will be. More than anything, though, I am so thankful that of all the billions of fathers in human history, I was one of the lucky three who got him.
He was clear about who he was, where he stood on things, and about his faith, and that has been a comfort always, but especially in this last year. I'm thankful for my lovely Dad, and for my wonderful Mom, too. In trying times, it's tempting to feel like everything would be so much better if we still had Dad around, but there's also joy in knowing he is spared the pain of awful things that happen in the world, too. We all talk about him, and about what he would have thought, how he would have advised us. My sister bought a truck and sold it rather quickly, saying "I knew I shouldn't have bought it, I could just hear Dad saying I shouldn't buy that one." Even as we miss him, we are delighted by his sweet, sunny wisdom. He'll be present with us, always.
Grief is terrible and hideously painful for everyone, and actual mileage may vary. I'll never be the same, and it feels like pure joy is gone forever. Still, the memory of Dad and of all that he stood for is a great comfort, and I'm holding on to that. The only bitterness of his memory is of having lost him, and all the rest is simply sweet.