Twenty years ago today, my dad died. I was not quite nineteen years old. I am not quite thirty-nine now, and sometime in the last years I passed the day on which I’d been alive longer without a father than with one.
Grief is funny, I think, and individual and complicated. The immediate pain is long past, but every once in a while I’m still pretty sad.
I’m sad that Dad wasn’t at our wedding, even though my brother Chris did a splendid job of walking me down the aisle (and making sure I didn’t go dashing down there way before my cue). I like it that Dad knew Paul, though I’m sure he never imagined him as my husband.
I’m sad that he never got to meet my boys. I think he would have delighted in them. I know he would have pretended to eat their tiny baby toes, because he’s where I picked up that habit. And he would have shown them the bird in his pocket every time he saw them. I still have never met anyone else who can whistle just like that.
I’m sad that I never got to know him when I was an adult. That’s a tricky one, too, because the adult I am has been significantly shaped by his absence. We don’t get to know what might have happened, so I’ll never really know how I might have been different. Or how he might have been different, 10 years down the road. Or fifteen.
I won’t wallow, I promise. I’m not usually a very sentimental person, and dates I maybe ought to remember often go by me without much of a blip. But today, I’m going to let myself feel sad for the girl that I was, who lost her daddy. And the woman I became, who went on without him.