I miss my dad more than usual this year. The ache in my heart never quite goes away. The missing piece of me never heals or regrows. The sad little blue corner deep in my soul never quite goes away. His passing wasn’t unexpected, he wasn’t ripped out of our lives in a horrible unexpected way. He slowly progressed in his fight with Lou Gehrig’s disease – all 9 years worth. The medical staff at the local hospital told us we’d have 6 – 9 months, well my dad showed them.
Though physically he lost his battle, he was finally freed. He would finally have the much-needed rest his soul needed. We were left without our Tatus three years ago. The same weekend Adam and I went to Detroit to celebrate my mom and my father-in-law’s birthdays (well and Adam because you see they are literally three days in a row.) We were also announcing the impending birth of our first child. My dad pulled through, he pulled through the announcement. Though he couldn’t react, he was there with us. Though he couldn’t show signs of joy, I know his soul was whistling a happy tune. Be would become Dziadek Rysiu.
The next day he passed away, quietly in his sleep while Adam and I went to celebrate birthdays and our secret announcement with his family. My dad pulled along for so many years, I think mainly for us. He pushed through his days as his disease progressed, he never faltered. We all adapted to the new, yet ever-changing “normal.” We found joy in the little things and made memories the best way we could. Our time with my dad was precious, we made the most of it.
As we are getting ready to celebrate Adam’s 3rd Father’s day I think of what my dad would have been as a Dziadek Rysiu. Would he have treated Henry like a porcelain doll, like my dad treated me? Would he help Henry build forts out of blankets in the living room? Would he have tickle fights with him? Would he read him lots of books and use funny voices for each character? Would they play any practical jokes? Would he explain why the clouds differ from each other, why the sky is blue, why the trees shed leaves?
In a way he has, through me.
The ache in my heart ebbs and flows. The ache grips my soul and then relaxes like a slow heartbeat. I focus instead of my happy memories of my dad. The ones that give him color, life, and joy. I remember his tall stature, his shy smile, he warm light brown eyes, his tanned skin. I remember his excellent story-telling abilities, his well-timed sense of humor, and general ease on existence whether by himself or in a crowd.
Oh sure, I have my weaker moments, where I look with envy at the dads with their kids, at the grandpas with their grand kids. But I am reminded that my dad, though no longer here, is still ever present in my heart and my memories.