(photo: My Mom and Dad. A couple of years before this photo was taken, Dad had been diagnosed with stage 4 kidney cancer. He outlived his short death sentence by six years. He died in June of 2006 at age 71. I think he’s looking pretty good here.)
For a long time, if I allowed myself to think about my father, I wouldn’t be able to hold back the tears. That didn’t stop me from thinking about him, but it often forced me to leave a room so as not to have to answer the question: “What’s wrong?”
I don’t know about you, but if I am teary-eyed and somebody asks me what’s wrong, I cry harder. The attention makes the emotion more real and once the waterworks begin, it takes me awhile to gather myself together and calm down.
In a week, my father will have been gone from us for nine years.
I still cry when I think about him, especially during special occasions or difficult times, but I’ve reached the stage where I can also have happy memories with him in them and actually feel happy. I can write about him and not have to have a tissue box nearby.
I don’t miss him any less, but my life goes on without his physical presence. The longer he’s been gone, the more I’ve gotten used to knowing he isn’t there to call or to visit or to anticipate seeing.
Father’s day, though, is particularly emotional for me. He was in the hospital on his last Father’s Day, June 18, 2006, with his children and my children and some other family members surrounding him. It was a bittersweet moment, as we knew that it would be our last Father’s Day with him and expected it might be one of our last times with him. Less than two weeks later, he died.
Today, I’m thinking about him and I’m allowing myself to cry. I think of all the friends who lost their fathers at much younger ages or who didn’t live with their fathers or who don’t get along with their fathers.
I am sad, but I also feel blessed to have had my father for forty-one years and to have loved him as I did and to have had him love me as he did.
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