one year ago tonight, i watched my dad take his last breath. one minute here was here, the next he was gone. watching him leave this earth was the most surreal experience i've ever had and will be ingrained in my mind forever. august 1st, the first anniversary of his death has been looming over me for some time now, and i can't believe it's here.
we've gotten through all of the firsts: holidays, birthdays, anniversaries without him. there are no new pictures or stories of him to share from this past year. my kids are a year older now and their memories of him have likely faded a bit. even i have to really strain to remember the sound of his voice, his mannerisms, and the feeling of his warm hugs. i hate that i haven't hugged him in a year. every night i pray i'll dream about him, and i often do. in every dream he looks outwardly healthy, but we talk about how we are so lucky that he is still physically with us even though has has died. strange, huh? the dreams always feel so real and are such a gift because they are the closest i can come to being with him now. i feel like there is nothing new i haven't said about losing him, yet all i want to do is write about losing him. so i am.
i find there are certain triggers for my grief, and they are not the things i would have expected. the most notable one lately is seeing grandpas with their grandkids (or women my age with their dads). i met a friendly grandpa at a park recently who was visiting his granddaughter and my eyes welled up with tears after our conversation ended. my dad loved my kids so much (and vice versa) and i hate that i will never get to see them together again. my kids won't get the chance to know my dad like i knew him. what a loss for them. the other big trigger is when i hear music that reminds me of him (an allman brothers band song, spanish guitar, smooth jazz), it's hard for me to keep it together - even if i'm in the middle of top pot donuts.
i can't decide if grieving is "easier" or harder now than it was a year ago. it's just different. most days it feels very "normal" for him to not be here and other days my mind still can't fathom it. i wonder if it will always be that way. one of the hardest things for me is that i still desperately want to talk to him about the experience of losing him...but i can't (at least not in the traditional sense). i always talked to him about big things in my life and it feels so strange to not be able to talk to him about this huge experience i had.
while i desperately wish i could have another 20 years with him, it does not lessen the experiences we did have. he raised me to be smart, to be strong, to exercise, to travel, to love life. he was my cheerleader in college when i would freak out about my course load, he walked me down the aisle at my wedding and danced with me at the reception (even though there wasn't much in life he hated more than dancing. haha), he treated thatcher like his own son, he met my babies and snuggled them while they slept on his chest as newborns, and played with them when they got older. he loved us all so much. and i will never stop loving him.
i recently found this picture of him and i think it's perfectly symbolic