He was my first kiss, the first hand I held, the first man to ever send me flowers and the first man who I trusted to keep me safe and protected. Nineteen years ago today he left me and for the past few years this day has passed without much ado or even notice from me. I’ve simply noticed the date on the calendar, paused for one moment and then gone about my day. This year feels different. This year is hard. It’s the twins, you see. I can’t let this day pass without a gut wrenching feeling that he is missing something wonderful.
For nineteen years my grief focused on what I was missing. But this year I have a new-found type of grief – this time I grieve for him. And I know what you are thinking – he sees them, he knows them, blah, blah, blah… but I’d give anything to see my father with those babies; to see his joy at being a grandfather. I’d give my right arm to watch him change Zack’s diaper or dress Sara up in a frilly pink dress. It’s different this year and it is strange. For so long my grief has been about life without him, how I didn’t have my dad at graduations or the important moments of the past 19 years. I’ve never thought about the things on earth that he’ll never experience. That’ll he will never hold these sweet babies in his arms and get to say that he loves them. That he’ll miss their sweet baby smell or the feel of their baby soft skin against his callused and scarred hands.
I didn’t expect this grief today or how difficult it would be to acknowledge his absence in a year of such blessing. I didn’t expect how hard it would be to make this shift – the shift from feeling like something had been taken from me to feeling that he’s the one missing out now. I look at Big Sara and Elizabeth and wonder if their grief has changed, too. Do they feel sorry for him now instead of sorry for themselves the way that I do? Does this day feel different this year? It’s strange that this day, the day of his death serves as the strongest reminder of him – more than his birthday or even mine – January 29th is always the day that my thoughts linger on my father more than any other day. I look at sweet Zack and Sara and feel genuine sorrow that he doesn’t get to stare at them they way that I do, he doesn’t get to lavish them with clothes and toys, or know how it feels to have them fall asleep in your arms – their heaviness in the crook of your arm. And today, that heaviness has made its way to my heart and filled me a grief and longing that I thought was long since passed.
Tears, idle tears, I know not what they mean,
Tears from the depth of some divine despair
Rise in the heart, and gather to the eyes,
In looking on the happy Autumn-fields,
And thinking of the days that are no more.
– Alfred Lord Tennyson