Dad turned 51 on Sunday, May 30, 2010. I'm sure you're supposed to say, "would have turned," but I haven't yet come to terms with such verbiage (and frankly I don't care to) so you'll just have to pardon the grammatical inaccuracy. To me, sadly, it still seems as if Dad is on vacation. I know we spent the worst weekend of my life in a hospital, I know we had a visitation and a funeral, I know we had a small luncheon after. I just feel like, okay, we did all the pomp and circumstances and now we can go back to normal. It's not final. It's not my new reality. I'll see him again.
Over the past couple of months though, that mentality has been challenged. I've learned that after a short duration of time, there's a big drop off in communication. One minute you are surrounded by friends and family and the next you're back home and back to work. Life returns to some version of what "normal" used to look like. It's just as surreal as the tragedy. Then, it happens. Small little events creep into your everyday life and force you to acknowledge Dad is in fact, gone.
There was the first time someone asked me about my parents and if they lived close by and I had to use the words "passed away."
There was the time our water heater just started running nonstop and all of our water turned blazing hot and we had a constant stream in the basement. My instinct was to call Dad. Dad will know what happened and what to do. Instead I had to call a plumber and pay for a new one.
There's also every time I step into my kitchen. Dad did the kitchen. The perfect result wouldn't have been possible without him.
Then there's every time someone asks about the green band I wear on my wrist or the green ribbon I pin to my shirts. Everyone has heard of the yellow bands from Lance Armstrong so they automatically associate it with an organization and ask what I'm supporting. I usually just have to say: "My Dad was an organ donor." That's all the farther I get before I get the sympathetic head tilt and weary smile. Not to mention every time I look down at it, I think of him. Ironically, his favorite color was green.
Then of course there was his birthday he wasn't around to celebrate with. We were advised to do something fun to celebrate. Get out and be happy for the day. We did. When we got home we watched the Twins game, grilled out, played a round of Cornhole and a marathon game of Catch Phrase. I was all smiles until I read some of the clues. Shawn had to try to get me to guess "father-in-law" and I had to get Tammy and Ty to guess "Easter" for example. We made it through the game, I managed to smile, laugh and have fun until the end, and then I escaped safely to my room before I melted.
That's the bizarre part. The sadness strikes you at the oddest times and always unannounced. The happiness has just as peculiar timing though. I'll be sitting at work listening to my iTunes and Spirit in the Sky comes on and I involuntarily start tapping my foot and smiling. Not all songs have this effect or I would walk around with my iPod in my ears at all times. I still haven't brought myself to listen to Piano Man. Mandi posted the lyrics on FB on the day of his birthday. Reading that was hard enough.
Needless to say I'm still wallowing in self-pity. I'm okay with my wallowing though because I have acknowledged it. I haven't come to terms with my new reality but I know it's okay not to for now. Ask me in a year. Ask me after Father's Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter. There's no manual but as Shawn always tells me, however I react or whatever I do or feel will always be right. So I'll just keep on keeping on.
I have to apologize for what seems like such a grim posting. Normally I would shy away from posting something so personal but it's still such a dominate part of my personality these days I couldn't ignore it or his birthday. You need to know there is also tons of good going on, it just doesn't negate the void. The crowds and questions have dissipated but my love has not. So, at the very least, I need to publicly say (although like me, Dad would hate the attention): I love and miss you Dad and I hope you did something fun to celebrate your special day!