I cannot believe it has already been two years without my dad. It feels like two days yet twenty years all at the same time. People often ask if I would have rather known he was going to die or if I would rather it be like it was: unexpected. There is absolutely no part of me that would choose unexpected. If he had been sick and I knew he was dying, I would have been able to have important conversations and (selfishly) get a lot of things off my chest. Of course, I wouldn’t wish for someone to suffer but (selfishly) I wish I had a heads up. But I know for a fact he went exactly how he would have preferred. He never wanted to get old and get dementia and have us take care of him. He always joked that he wanted us to put him in a kayak and push him out to sea the moment he started losing it. I find a little bit of comfort in the fact that I will always remember him as a 56-year-old kid at heart.
Grief is a funny thing. I cried for an entire year every time I had to tell someone my dad died. You think it wouldn’t come up that much but it does. The tears have become less frequent and sometimes I feel guilty for not crying as much as I used to. It feels like if I’m not crying, I don’t actually miss him. Again, grief is a funny thing. Lately, the shock and reality come in waves. Most days it just smacks me right in the face and I am reminded he is no longer here. Everyone grieves in different ways but one (weird) way I have been able to cope is by “joking” about him being gone. It took me a year to get to this point but I weirdly enjoy seeing people get uncomfortable when I’m blunt about it. Again, grief is a funny thing. Wondering where I get my weird sense of humor and my bluntness? Kev. He loved an inappropriate joke.
The hardest part about my dad being gone is being robbed of all the time I should have had to be an adult with him. I just feel like life is so much cooler as an adult and I wish I was given decades to be a grownup with him. Yes my childhood was fun but there is so much I don’t remember and wasn’t mature enough to appreciate in the moment. I hate that I’m missing out on experiences with him that I could actually remember and actually learn something from. I love spending time with my aunts and uncles and having real-life conversations that I can appreciate. I wish I could have those conversations with my dad. I wish we could talk about why he isn’t religious. I wish we could talk about what he loved most about my mom. I wish we could talk about why he made certain choices. I wish I could ask him the best piece of advice he had ever been given. I wish I could hang out at Chic’s beach with him. I wish I could go to lunch with just him and his sisters and talk about their wild upbringing. As an adult, I am so much more aware of opportunities for growth and the importance of being open-minded. I am wiser and more mindful about being present. I am old enough to appreciate conversations and to ask the difficult questions. I have learned how much I crave deep conversations and I would do anything to have those with my dad. I just wish we were able to do things and talk about things at this point in my life where I can truly be present in a moment and convey appreciation.
The other really hard part about not having my dad around is hitting life’s milestones without him. I have a vivid memory of him crying when my brother graduated pre-school. PRE-SCHOOL. That’s how proud he was of us. He loved seeing us grow and succeed and it makes me sad that he’s missing so much. He would be ecstatic about my brother’s new job and my younger cousin going to college for basketball. He would be so proud of my cousins in the military and excelling in school. I wish I could tell him all about my new job and all the cool things I’m doing. He always told me I was too good for Spare Time and I wish he knew I’ve finally moved on to bigger and better things. There is so much he’s already missed in two years and it hurts knowing how much more he won’t be around for.
Another really shitty part about my dad not being here is having people in my life who will never meet him. People have come into my life who I know he would love to fish with, golf with, shoot-the-shit with. I will (hopefully) eventually marry someone who didn’t know him and I’ll have kids who will never meet him. And that freakin sucks. It sucks that the people who come into my life from now on will never know him and how funny and sarcastic and impatient he was. They will never go with him to a diner with him and hear how specific his drink order was (“I’ll take a coffee and an orange juice for now but I want a large, cold glass of milk with my meal. The biggest glass you have. Please.”) They won’t get to experience his laugh or his taste in music or how completely crazy he drove me. It sucks. It all just sucks.
It is scary to think that there will be a time when I will have lived longer without my dad than with him. I hate that. I don’t like to use the word hate, mostly because my dad taught me not to, but I hate how much time was robbed from us. I hate that there are so many conversations we should have had but never did. I highly recommend people have those tough conversations before it’s too late. Talk about the hard shit. Have those positive conversations full of guidance and wisdom before it’s too late. Talk about the good shit. Be selfish. Get it all out. Most importantly: tell the people you love that you love them. Life is so freakin short.